“The Crown” stars Olivia Colman and Lesley Manville are among a host of British creative industries personalities calling for a levy on gadgets, the proceeds of which would to towards supporting the U.K. creative sector.

“As a coalition of creators and performers we support the Smart Fund, a new scheme that could help to bring cultural and economic renewal to the whole of the U.K. The fund could generate £250-£300 [$346-415] million a year for the creative sector, and boost a wider U.K. economic recovery, by placing a small levy on the sale of devices that enable people to store and download creative content, such as mobile phones, laptops and personal computers. This would provide a direct way for tech companies to invest in culture,” the artists wrote in a letter to U.K. newspaper The Times on Tuesday.

“In 2019 the creative industries contributed £111.7 billion to the economy and accounted for 61,000 new jobs. The arts provide sustenance to the engine room of cultural regeneration, recovery and renewal for the whole country. The Smart Fund is a way of supporting this,” the letter added.

Signatories to the letter also include actors Jonathan Pryce, Celia Imrie, Miriam Margolyes, Imelda Staunton and Nina Wadia and several artists, directors and photographers.


John de Mol’s Talpa and Arthur Essebag’s Satisfaction Group have entered into a joint venture targeting the French market. Under the partnership, Satisfaction will have exclusive rights to sell and produce all Talpa formats, including “Marble Mania,” “Avastars,” “Hunting Season,” “A Quiz For You,” “Hit the road” and “Kids buy a house.” Talpa have already announced an exclusive partnership with Dok1 Media in Belgium.

Talpa Network is a cross platform network comprising four free-to-air TV stations and a video streaming platform, four radio stations and an audio streaming platform, a social media network, a print business and an e-commerce platform. Talpa Network and RTL Nederland unveiled a proposed merger to join forces and create a strong Dutch cross-media group across TV, streaming, radio, print and digital. – Elsa Keslassy

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Clockwise: Salem Kali B, Jasmine Armando, Aymen Hamdouchi, Waleed Zuaiter, Fady El-Sayed


Filming is underway on the second series of Sky original drama, “Gangs of London.” Joining the cast of series one, which include Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù, Michelle Fairley, Brian Vernel, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Lucian Msamati, Paapa Essiedu, Valene Kane, Orli Shuk, Narges Rashidi and Asif Raza are Waleed Zuaiter (“Baghdad Central”), French rapper Jasmine Armando in her first TV role, Salem Kali (“Dealer”), Aymen Hamdouchi (“Criminal: U.K.”) and Fady El-Sayed (“A Private War”).

Created by Gareth Evans and his creative partner Matt Flannery, the second season picks up a year after the events of series one and charts London’s map and soul being redrawn.

The series is produced by Pulse Films in association with SISTER, for Sky Studios and AMC Networks.

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“Departure” Red Arrow Studios International


ViacomCBS-backed U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 has snapped up the first season of thriller “Departure” (6 x 45′), which stars Archie Panjabi and the late Christopher Plummer and follows a team of investigators tasked with solving mysterious air, sea and land disasters. The show will air on 5Star and then land on catch-up service My 5. Distributed by Red Arrow Studios International, the drama (both the first and forthcoming season 2) has also sold into Lionsgate Play (India), Net5 (Netherlands), DPG Media in Belgium for VTM2 and TVNZ (New Zealand). In Sweden, TV4 has also picked up season 2, following its previous acquisition of season 1. – Manori Ravindran


The International Confederation of Arthouse Cinemas, the CICAE has elected a new board, with Christian Bräuer, managing director of the Berlin Yorck Kinogruppe and chair of the German Arthouse Association, re-elected as president.

The board is shifting towards a younger, increasingly international and more gender balanced representation of its members. It sees the networking of the global arthouse movement as the basis for defending and strengthening cinemas in times of global market concentration, while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage.

The executive board also includes VPs Francois Aymé (France), Domenico Dinoia (Italy), Mario Fortin (Canada) and Peggy Johnson (U.S.), general secretary Eva Morsch-Kihn (France), treasurer Renaud Laville (France) and associate member Mira Staleva (Bulgaria).


NickWatch by Nickelodeon, a new connected smart watch immersing kids and families in Nick brands, was unveiled this morning at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress.

Coming with a charger, a charging base and two watch bands, – one for children featuring such shows as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Sponge Bob” – NickWatch will be available for purchase in 2022. It will also facilitate a direct line of communication between kids and their families and friends, enhancing children’s independence, argues ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI), whose president and CEO Raffaele Annecchino presented the NickWatch by Nickelodeon at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress during a keynote on Tuesday.

Children can play alone or with friends who also have a NickWatch. The product’s key facet, however, looks to be its communication channels, whose primary modes are texts and voice calls. Parents and caregivers can text a child from their phone, who can reply via pre-written responses, voice-to-text, emojis and photos.

Such direct contact will, VCNI argued, allow for children to gain more independence and “explore the world.” The NickWatch has been designed in partnership with Israeli startup Watchinu. VCNI will announce pricing, retail, distribution partners and market availability at a later date. – John Hopewell

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