Makers Of ‘Rake’, ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Feted
Australia’s Essential Media and Entertainment, producers of TV legal drama The Rake and Saving Mr. Banks, the film about Australian author P.L. Travers and the making of Mary Poppins starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, has been named Independent Producer of the Year. The award was made by the Screen Producers Association of Australia. Essential and Sony Pictures TV are planning a U.S. pilot remake of Rake for Fox Broadcasting starring Greg Kinnear. Headed by Chris Hilton, Ian Collie, Sonja Armstrong and Carmel Travers, Essential Media’s slate also includes the Jack Irish crime drama telemovies starring Guy Pearce for Australia’s ABC, My Brother, the Serial Killer for Discovery Channel, and Raising The Curtain, a celebration of Australia’s history of live theater. – Don Groves 

‘Voice UK’ Coaches In Return For Season Two
BBC One is bringing back all four of its The Voice UK coaches when the show returns next spring. Tom Jones,, Jessie J and Danny O’Donoghue are on board for the second season of the show that was BBC One’s biggest new entertainment series on record following its debut in March. The first season had a consolidated average of 9.2M viewers and a 38.5% share. For a large part of its run, it was locked in a battle with Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent which aired on BBC rival network ITV. Voice ratings were solid through the blind auditions and battle rounds, but floundered during the live shows leading the BBC to pare down live performances for next season. Black Eyed Peas frontman, for his part, said “This season is gonna be doper than last year!”

BSkyB To Feel Initial Premier League Pinch
Britain’s dominant pay-TV group BSkyB said higher-than-expected costs to secure Premier League soccer rights will put a short-term dent in its earnings which will level out over the course of the contracts. CFO Andrew Griffith told a Morgan Stanley conference there would be a “little bit of discontinuity” to otherwise steady improvement in margins. BSkyB and new market entrant BT agreed in June a £3 billion ($4.75 billion) rights deal to show live English Premier League matches for the next three years. BSkyB will pay £760 million ($1.2 billion) per season to show 116 live games – a 40 percent increase on the cost of its current deal.

‘Trust’ Game Show Gets Multiple Middle East Versions
Banijay International game show Trust is making its way to the Middle East. Broadcasters in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt will get local versions of the show in three different Arab dialects courtesy of a deal with I-deasTV Productions. The shows will all be shot in Beirut to launch in December this year on an initial order of 20 one-hour episodes. The primetime show will air on Future TV in Lebanon; Rotana Khaligia in Saudi Arabia and Rotana Egypt in Egypt, each with a different host. This is the first time a format has been produced in three different Arabic dialects. Trust, created by Air Productions and Banijay Creative Factory, asks “What is the price of your betrayal?” as two complete strangers work together to answer trivia questions. The more they get right, the more cash they amass. But there is no way of sharing the prize and during a face-to-face round, the partners are transformed into opponents. Trust has previously been licensed to ATV in Turkey and France 2.

Quickflix Shares Still In Limbo
Directors of Quickflix, Australia’s only combined online DVD rental and subscription streaming service, asked the Stock Exchange to continue a voluntary suspension of trading of its shares on Thursday local time. On Tuesday the company requested a two-day suspension, pending an announcement of a new strategic investor and capital raising .  Quickflix, in which HBO bought a 15.7% stake for $A10M ($10.7M) in February, is burning through cash and had just $2.2M in the bank at the end of September. It had 115,592 paying customers. – Don Groves

Australian TV Viewers Shift Online
There’s a worrying trend for Australian free-to-air broadcasters and pay channels in overall viewing figures this year. The total FTA audience fell by 5% year-on-year in October, the sixth consecutive decline in FTA viewing, according to Credit Suisse analyst Samantha Carleton. Audiences for the 200-plus pay channels fell by 2% and the total TV viewing audience dropped by 4% year-on-year, she said. In the key 16-54 demo most sought after by advertisers, FTA audiences shrank by 5% in September and pay TV audiences were down 4%. Here’s one reason why people are drifting away from their TVs: Australians spent an average of 81 hours online in June, including 8.7 million who went online for entertainment and amusement purposes, up 18% on the prior year, according to a new research by Australian Communications and Media Authority. – Don Groves