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14/02/2003

Pact warn on Discovery Channel commissioning clause

Pact have warned their members about a restrictive clause the Discovery Channel have added into their commissioning agreements.
The clause precludes any programme makers the channel commissions from licensing the programme or allowing others to licence it to National Geographic and National Geographic affiliated/co-owned channels.
The clause, which applies worldwide, regardless of whether Discovery have a presence in that territory, is considered by Pact to be detrimental to the interests of independent factual producers, many of whom rely on licences from both Discovery and National Geographic to fully finance programmes, as Discovery rarely pay 100% of a budget.
Pact have met with senior executives from Discovery in the UK and made clear their concerns. However, Discovery have so far refused to remove the offending clause from their contracts.
Discovery are concerned at the growing presence of the National Geographic Channel and believes National Geographic are picking up rights in projects that Discovery have commissioned and financed, at a fraction of the price of the original commission.
"Discovery's desire to protect its brand in a competitive marketplace is understandable," says John McVay, chief executive of Pact. "However, this should not be at the expense of indies' ability to raise the finance needed. Once again a broadcaster's corporate competitive response fails to take into account the legitimate needs of its key suppliers who, after-all, deliver audiences and therefore revenues."
UK independents who are facing demands from Discovery to include this type of clause into their agreements and are unsure what to do are urged to contact Pact for advice.
(GB)
VMI.TV Ltd

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