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Global Village: India Gets Tough on Smoking, Italy Tough on Pirates, More

Int'l News Briefs: Industry Highlights from Around the World


A Tough Tobacco Road
A recent study by researchers in India and the U.K. has reinforced a strict anti-smoking campaign begun last year by the central board of film classification that requires any actor who portrays a character seen smoking in a film or TV program to make an anti-smoking video. Bollywood audiences have been exposed to more than 14 billion images of tobacco use every year, according to the paper, by Delhi NGO Hriday and London’s Imperial College, titled Tobacco Imagery in Bollywood Films: 2006-2008. The study analyzed 44 top-grossing films released in that period. The central board’s campaign stipulates that the anti-smoking vids, each 20-seconds long, must in the case of a movie run before the start of the film and at intermission (all films released in India have intermissions). In addition, an anti-smoking message must be displayed during the smoking scene.


Sony TV’s Nouveau Novelas
Sony Pictures Television will acquire 50% of Televiva, Dori Media Group’s telenovela channel in Indonesia. Televiva, which offers telenovelas
dubbed into Bahasa Indonesia, is carried by Indovision, the nation’s largest pay TV provider. The channel is popular among women ages 15 and over, and boasts high viewership loyalty for its programming. Andy Kaplan, president of worldwide networks for SPT, said that the joint-venture agreement demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to the Indonesian pay TV marketplace.


BBC Worldwide Woos Oz
BBC Worldwide will launch a channel on Australia’s Foxtel, a deal that reflects the Britcaster’s global strategy to build its brand in markets outside the U.K. The channel will launch as part of the Foxtel Drama & Lifestyle package in mid-2014, featuring programming from the BBC and other British producers that will not be available on terrestrial television for at least a year. Among titles touted in the multiplatform channel, which will be ad-free, is the 10-part drama series, The Musketeers, from Adrian Hodges. Under the deal, four BBC channels — UKTV, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC World News — will continue to be carried on the Foxtel platform.


Slim’s appealing loophole?
Mexico’s Senate approved a bill April 19 limiting Carlos Slim’s America Movil and TV giant Televisa to 50% market shares. But the bill also introduced a section granting rights of appeal to any companies forced to sell off assets — a resort they’ve used in the past to stymie regulation. Appeal rights look likely to depend on still-unknown rulings that implement reforms. The bill could hit the statute books any day.


PWC Says TV License Pays Off
A PricewaterhouseCoopers report says that government fees to fund public TV are a sound investment. Irish TV households are required to pay an annual fee of $208, which is used to fund pubcaster RTE (a similar model to the U.K., where such fees fund the BBC). PWC says that for every tax euro spent, RTE plows back double the amount into the economy. In 2011, the most year in which figures are available, RTE contributed $500 million to the Irish economy. The report also noted that 42% of RTE’s license fee money goes back to the government as taxes.


Thompson Signs On at Core
Clare Thompson is joining Core Media U.K., the London office of Core Media Group, as creative director. She will report to Simon Shaps, managing
director of international content and production, in developing original programming and strategy in the for the company in the U.K. and Europe, and drive investment partnerships with other international producers. Core prexy Marc Graboff and head of U.S. television Jen O’Connell recently announced the company’s partnership with Shaps, former director of television at ITV, the U.K.’s largest commercial broadcaster, to build its international base.


Picmakers oppose U.S. breaks
Michael Haneke, Michel Hazanavicius, Pedro Almodovar, David Lynch and the Dardenne brothers are among the filmmakers who signed a petition advocating that the Brussels-based European Commission bury its suggestion to include audiovisual and film services in the EU-U.S. trade discussions. Inclusion would allow American film and TV players to qualify for pre-financing benefits and subsidies in Europe. The petition argues that the proposed negotiation mandate would undermine the cultural exception, a principle voted into being 20 years ago by the EU that gives the arts a specific status, and ensures the sector is excluded from trade negotiations. Euro players fear their industries will be overpowered by Hollywood.


Europeans vie to lure lensing
The competition is heating up to attract production. Lithuania will enter the game with a 20% tax break. Croatia introduced 20% (and has hosted “Game of Thrones”) last year, and the Czech Republic and Hungary have had 20% rebates for some years. Hungarian Film Commissioner Andy Vajna is pressing for the rebate to rise to 25%. Latvia, which offers up to 20% in the capital, Riga, plans to intro a 25% rebate this year, and Serbia is set to roll out a 20% rebate soon.


Holland to gavel Karlovy Vary
Agnieszka Holland will head the main jury at Karlovy Vary, Central and Eastern Europe’s most prestigious film fest, which runs June 28-July 6. Holland rarely accepts such invitations, saying she finds the concept of judging art problematic. But she considers Karlovy Vary an exception: “It is a different selection — more open and unexpected than other big festivals — chosen with a sensibility that is close to my heart.” The fest is set to give its Crystal Globe prize to Oliver Stone.


App follows the money
Paris-based Backup Media, the film-TV finance shingle behind “We Have a Pope” and “Rebound,” on April 30 kicks off Movie Chainer, a cloud-based app that allows rights-holders of films to track and model the legal and financial structure of their projects. Movie Chainer is joining forces with Cannes Film Market’s Web platform Cinando to enable members to get a free registration valid for three projects.


Monster Piracy Crackdown
Italian police have shut down 27 Internet portals hosting movie file-sharing activity, in a sweep touted as the biggest Western anti-piracy raid since the November 2010 Homeland Security crackdown in the U.S. Italy’s torrent takedown was prompted by legal action taken by distrib Sunshine Pictures to protect its rights to Gallic kidpic “A Monster in Paris.” The seized domains, including NowDownload, BitShare, and RapidGator, have countersued, maintaining they are cloud platforms where clients can rent personal file space.


Puppet Show; Puppet Courts?
Human Rights Watch has requested the immediate release of Tunisian producer Sami Fehri, who has been behind bars for nine months despite two rulings by the country’s highest court against his detention. Fehri, owner of new private broadcaster Attounissia TV, was arrested in August in a corruption case, which he claims is retaliation for “The Political Logic,” a puppet show he aired that spoofed members of the government and its ruling Islamist Ennahda party.


Soccer Back in Action
The country’s soccer association is auctioning TV rights to matches, after the sport took a year’s hiatus. Following the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution, soccer has been a hot-button proposition, with rabid fans often highly politicized. A February 2012 stadium stampede in Port Said after a match between the Al-Masry and Al-Ahly clubs caused more than 70 deaths and a one-year suspension of professional soccer in the country. The Egyptian Football Assn. has set $17 million as the starting price for the rights auction, which does not include radio rights and allows the buyer to resell packages to other broadcasters.

(Compiled by Timothy M. Gray; Reported by Leo Barraclough, John Hopewell, Elsa Keslassy, Cynthia Littleton, Naman Ramachandran, Nick Vivarelli.)

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