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29/05/2002

Belfast companies receive TV production boost

Four independent television production companies with ambitions to become Northern Ireland's leading production houses are being given a head start through a scheme funded by Invest Northern Ireland and Channel 4.
Stirling Film & Television Productions, Brian Waddell Productions, Hot Shot Films and Mint Productions - all based in Belfast - have been successful in their bid to take part in a training and business development programme that will help them land more commissions from UK-wide broadcasters and the international market.
The Research Centre for Television and Interactivity, based in Glasgow, will deliver the Network Development Initiative (NDI) - funded by Channel 4 and economic development agency, Invest Northern Ireland.
Each company is to receive funding to employ a researcher on a fixed-term contract of a year to work exclusively in the area of research and development. A key focus of the initiative is to give the new researchers, and the producers they work with, access to senior commissioning editors across all television networks. They will receive an insight into what sort of programme ideas broadcasters are looking for and how to make a successful pitch.
The NDI is designed to encourage independent producers to become more competitive and to increase their opportunities of winning commissions from the UK networks, rather than rely on local broadcasters.
Piloted last year the initiative was a huge success, with participating companies landing major commissions from UK-wide broadcasters. Topics covered in the NDI training programme include an examination of current trends in television; stimulating ideas and successful programme analysis; techniques for successful pitches; and opportunities offered by digital television. However, priority will be given to introducing researchers to executives from the UK networks in order to understand their programming needs.
Kevin McCann, Director of Enterprise Support with Invest Northern Ireland, the core funder of the initiative, said: "Research and experimentation is key in the development of this sector. The ability to produce high-standard, thoroughly researched proposals automatically lifts a company on to a level where it can seriously compete for those essential commissions which will ensure sustainable growth."
Stuart Cosgrove, Head of Programmes (Nations & Regions), said: "The four successful companies are committed to growing their business through reaching these wider audiences beyond their region. A new dedicated researcher on the team will enable them to focus on achieving this."
Channel 4, www.channel4.com
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