In today’s Global Bulletin, Bill Gates will participate in this year’s World Congress of Science and Factual Producers as keynote speaker, Netgem and France Channel co-create a new French content streaming platform, Storyglass announces an arts-themed podcast, “Stath Lets Flats” gets a third season at Channel 4, Damian Kavanagh leaves Tiger Aspect and James Purnell departs the BBC, and ViacomCBS Networks International promotes Lee Sears.
The World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) has announced its highest-profile speaker for this year’s event in Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, who will take part in an interview with medical journalist Dr. Mercy Korir at the upcoming digital edition of Congress ’20.
Originally planned for early December in the French city of Strasbourg, WCSFP was forced to move this year’s physical event online as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The rescheduled event will stream Dec. 7-10.
Gates has been an outspoken voice in the fight against the COVID-19 threat, providing aid and support for particularly hard-hit areas. Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the billionaire and his partner Melinda have helped improve detection, isolation and treatment efforts globally, particularly among at-risk populations.
The keynote event, which goes live on Tuesday Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. PST, will focus on the foundation’s efforts to eradicate COVID-19 and other infectious diseases that infect millions each year.
Netgem, an independent service provider, is joining forces with the recently launched company France Channel to create a subscription-based VOD service dedicated to French content around the world. Named France Channel, the new streaming service will first bow in the U.S. in early 2021.
France Channel, which looks to do for French content what BritBox has achieved for British content overseas, will showcase a wide range of French programs, including movies, TV series, animation and documentaries.
The application was developed by Netgem and will be available on iOS, Android, web browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Edge), as well as on Roku in the U.S. The service will also be available on Netgem’s multiscreen platform in France under the MyVIDEOFUTUR service, and it will be available in the U.K. on Netgem TV.
“We are very pleased to take part in this ambitious project alongside France Channel and to help French programming reach more audiences and cross new borders,” said Mathias Hautefort, the CEO of Netgem Group.
France Channel was founded in July 2019 by Julien Verley, who previously headed the commercial activities of France Télévisions, among other TV groups. “We’re looking forward to becoming the go-to destination for all French and French culture enthusiasts in the U.S. and beyond,” said Verley.
Storyglass has announced a new podcast series, “What I Love,” exploring the impact that COVID-19 has had on the arts in the U.K.
Over eight episodes, the series invites several of the island’s best-loved artists, performers and creatives to share how they have personally and professionally been affecting by the prolonged period of isolation resulting from the viral crisis. Guests include: writer-poet Kae Tempest, actor-writer Cush Jumbo, actor Ben Wishaw, producer Sonia Friedman, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, actor Russell Brand, musician Johnny Flynn, and actor Jessie Buckley.
Each guest will share three of their own cultural highlights: a cherished piece of writing, a memorable song and a favorite film, meant to emphasize what is at risk without greater levels of cultural support during the pandemic.
Theater and television writer-director Robert Delamere executive produces the series, with Sarah Murray and Ben Walker producing for Storyglass. Original music is provided by PJ Harvey.
Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning comedy series “Stath Lets Flats,” from “Fleabag’s” Jamie Demetriou, has been recommissioned for a third series to be produced by RoughCut TV.
Season 2 left off on a cliffhanger, so fans will be thrilled that stars Natasia Demetriou (“What We Do In The Shadows”), Al Roberts (“King Gary”), Christos Stergioglou (“Dogtooth”), Katy Wix (“Ghosts”), Kiell Smith-Bynoe (“Ghosts”) and Ellie White (“The Other One”) are all back to continue the story of rental agent Stath as he struggles to keep his family’s business on its feet.
Originally developed for Channel 4’s online comedy showcase Blaps, “Stath Lets Flats” was commissioned for Channel 4 by Fiona McDermott and Jack Bayles, produced by Roughcut TV, with executive producers Jamie Demetriou and Ash Atalla.
After nearly two years with Tiger Aspect, an Endemol Shine-turned-Banijay company, managing director Damian Kavanagh is stepping down.
Kavanagh has been with Tiger Aspect, producers of hit series such as “Peaky Blinders” and “Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father,” for nearly two years, having joined in 2019 from BBC 3 where he commissioned several popular shows, including “Fleabag.”
In a letter to staff, Banijay U.K. executive chairman Peter Salmon said: “We will be very sorry to see him go, but I’m pleased to say that he has agreed to stay on until the end of November to help Lucinda and I with the transition to life post DK.”
“It has been a real privilege to lead Tiger Aspect through a period of rapid change and creative renewal over the last two years and I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved during this time,” said Kavanagh.
Elsewhere, James Purnell, the BBC’s director of radio and education, has stepped down after a seven-year stint at the corporation.
Purnell was a councillor affiliated with the Labour Party during the 1994-95 period. He worked for the BBC from 1995 through 1997 as head of corporate planning. He became a Labour member of parliament in 2001 and served as culture secretary in the Gordon Brown administration from 2007 to 2008. He resigned from the government in 2009, and took on senior roles in think tanks Demos and the Institute of Public Policy Research, and an advisory role at the Boston Consulting Group.
As a senior producer with independent production outfit Rare Day, Purnell produced Penny Woolcock’s documentary “One Mile Away,” that won the Michael Powell Award for best British feature film at the Edinburgh film festival in 2012.
He returned to the BBC in 2013 as director of strategy and digital, where he was responsible for developing the corporation’s strategy in the run up to the Charter Review. He took up his current role in 2016 where he had strategic, editorial and budgetary responsibility across the BBC’s arts, children’s, education, music and network radio output; and also led the BBC’s partnership activity and the development of BBC Ideas.
ViacomCBS Networks International has promoted Lee Sears to executive VP and general manager for digital and ad sales. Working out of the company’s London offices, Sears will report to ViacomCBS Networks International president of streaming and COO Kelly Day.
In the expanded role, Sears will head strategy and monetization of the company’s digital and social content as well as utilizing its extensive social reach to grow business goals, including support for its streaming growth and consumer products reach. He will also handle oversight of ViacomCBS Digital Studios International.