BBC Inquiry To Ramp Up Next Week
As incoming New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson is given the going over by staff at the newspaper who have questioned his involvement in the Jimmy Savile scandal, the BBC’s internal inquiry in the contentious cancellation of its Newsnight investigation will start interviewing key players next week. They include the editor of the program, Peter Rippon, who killed a probe into Savile’s impropriety that was set to air in December last year. He reported to Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, and George Entwistle, the new BBC director general who was head of television at the time. Both are expected to face tough questions from Nick Pollard, the former head of Sky News who is in charge of the inquiry. They’ll be joined by the Newsnight journalists who led the investigation into Savile, some of whom blew the whistle on the odd decision-making in a report on BBC current affairs program Panorama last week. Meanwhile, rival broadcaster ITV, which aired a program finally revealing the allegations against Savile at the start of October, is planning further revelations about the late Top Of The Pops host. A second report will be fronted by Mark Williams-Thomas, the former detective who led the original show. It’ll air at the end of November, as the Pollard inquiry is expected to be publishing its findings. – Joe Utichi
Keshet Is ‘Fair & Square’ In Nordics
Keshet International, the hot Israeli company behind the original format of Homeland, has sold factual entertainment show Fair & Square to Sweden, Finland and Denmark with each planning local versions. Nice Entertainment Group took the show for Sweden and Finland and Nordisk Film TV for Denmark. The series, produced by Kol-Miney Productions for Keshet, just had its 3rd season which was the most viewed series in Israel from July to October this year, pulling in a 43.4% average share. Fair & Square puts service professionals to the test by presenting real-life repair situations sought out by an undercover journalist host. Dishonest technicians are caught on film cheating the unwitting consumer and honest workers are praised for their professionalism.
Canadian Horror-Comedy ‘Father’s Day’ Banned in Oz
Father’s Day, a Canadian pic about a one-eyed vigilante who sets out to stop a psychopath dubbed ‘The Father’s Day Killer’ after his father is murdered, has been banned in Australia. The Classification Board gave no reason for its decision. Produced and directed by Canadian collective Astron-6, the film was due to screen on Sunday at the Monster Fest Film Festival at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova. The film had been given a temporary exemption allowing it to screen in March at the A Night of Horror Film Festival in Sydney, where it won best feature and best actor for Adam Brooks. The film’s Australian distributor, Neil Foley of Monster Pictures, branded the decision as “outrageous” and described it as “an hilarious and over-the-top spoof … despite its gore.” Monster’s The Human Centipede 2 was approved for release with an R rating but was later refused classification upon appeal to the Classification Review Board after complaints from Christian and family groups. – Don Groves
Quickflix Looks to Xbox to Boost Revenues
Australia’s only combined online DVD rental and subscription streaming service, Quickflix is looking to boost revenues via a deal with Xbox, which will make its service available to about 1 million users. The Xbox launch is days away, pending final certification. Quickflix executives have flagged they are discussing a potential merger or strategic partnership, a race against the clock as its cash reserves dwindled to $A2.2M ($2.28M) in the quarter to September 30. The company, in which HBO owns a 10% stake, incurred an operating loss of $1.8M on revenues of $5.3M in the quarter. The number of paying customers rose by 7% to 115,592, up 48% for the year. Streaming customers increased by 30% bolstered by new content deals with Disney, Starz and indie studios, and the launch of children’s programing. “We feel (Xbox) will deliver a good boost to both subscribers and revenues, but it’s always difficult to be more precise than that with a new platform,” CEO Chris Taylor tells Deadline.- Don Groves