ITV buys Norway’s Mediacircus, pacts with Israel’s Reshet

Deals follow strong half-year results

LONDON — U.K. web ITV has acquired Norwegian production company Mediacircus and joined forces with Israeli broadcaster Reshet to form a strategic development and production partnership.

The announcements came as ITV revealed a strong perf at its studio business with revenues up 34% year-on-year to 355 million ($555 million) for the six months to the end of June, well ahead of analysts’ expectations.

Profits at the division, which is making a renewed attempt to crack the international market, increased 32% year-on-year to $78 million.

Kevin Lygo, managing director of ITV Studios, emphasized that creating a strong international content business was key to ITV’s five-year transformation plan.

He said: ”These announcements mark an important chapter in our growth story as we progress our plan to develop our creative pipeline and strengthen our production capability.”

Mediacircus was founded by Eldar Nakken and Jon Sverre Hoiden in 2006 and has bases in Bergen and Oslo.

Shingle will become part of ITV Studios Nordic, which has produced and co-produced over 40 television series in Scandinavia.

Meanwhile, an agreement has been reached in principle for a new venture that will see ITV Studios and Reshet jointly source, develop and produce formats in Israel for both the Reshet network and the international market.

Financial details regarding the deals were not disclosed.

Paul Buccieri, managing director ITV Studios International and prexy and CEO ITV Studios America, said that an important part of the five-year plan was also to increase the company’s distribution network in key program genres and territories.

He added: ”Israel has exploded onto the television market as a creative hothouse and has become a major exporter of wonderful shows, which have entertained and engaged audiences not only in America but also across the world.”

Sharon Gelbaum-Shpan will head the venture’s Israeli office.

ITV reported an almost 8% year-on-year fall in pre-tax profits to $261 million in the first half of 2012.

With the U.K. still in recession ITV said the local ad market was declining and that September revenues were forecast to be down by 5%.