Banff cuts down the fluff

TV fest organizers get down to business

BANFF, Canada — It was less sizzle and more meat at the 28th Banff World Television Festival, which wrapped June 13. There was a smattering of martinis, a packed downtown watering hole and Daryl Hannah did participate in an environmental panel. But this year, organizers focused more on business than fun.

Early indications are that numbers are on par with last year with about 1,450 delegates and an increasing number of deals rolling out at the fest.

Program Partners, which specializes in syndicating Canadian content across the U.S., announced that Shaftsbury Films’ “ReGenesis” had been cleared for syndication in 75% of U.S. households, and Crescent’s 10-part drama “Terminal City” had been picked up by the Sundance Channel. Crescent also announced a first-look agreement with Channel Four Intl.

Los Angeles-based Program Partners, which distributes a growing slate of Canadian content Stateside, has been doing brisk business since its formation in 2003 with quality fare like “Da Vinci’s Inquest.”

“Here we have ever-increasing production quality in Canada, and over there you have a U.S. market where there’s a low supply,” says principal Josh Raphaelson. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there might be an opportunity there.”

Through Canadian partner Thunderbird, Program Partners also announced its most ambitious production to date, “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords,” will air in Canada in September on Rogers and Chum affiliates.

Raphaelson says the program plays well to various platforms. “We’re just doing those deals now,” he says, noting that new media companies at the fest had been “very aggressive.”

New media companies were well-repped at the four-day fest, in part because two-day confab NextMedia preceded the fest. At a user generated content panel, “Lonelygirl15” founder Greg Goodfried talked about a London-based spinoff called “Kate Modern” that will launch in July.

New entry to the Canadian biz is Comcast Entertainment Intl. prexy Kevin MacLellan, whose E! is coming as a rebrand in September on CanWest Global’s second free-to-air net, CH.

MacLellan raised eyebrows by asking why U.S. networks are allowed to air in this country, given that simulcasting dictates Canadian schedules. “It seems to me that putting those sorts of parameters on the schedules up here is really unfair and counterintuitive,” he said.

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