China’s State Council has temporarily repealed a ban on selling foreign video game consoles, Reuters reports this morning. The move had been expected and will open up a path for the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to sell their wares after a 14-year block. Now, “foreign-invested enterprises” will be allowed to make game consoles within Shanghai’s free trade zone and sell them in China after inspection by cultural departments. Consoles were initially banned in 2000 over concern that gaming would harm young people. Reuters says the growing market is worth a potential $14B.
Fox Turkey has appointed Shebnem Askin as EVP of programming. She was previously SVP of international acquisitions and sales at Fox International Productions and will take up her new role immediately. Her mandate will cover building on Fox Turkey’s entertainment offering and commissioning, acquiring and scheduling film, drama, factual, kids and event entertainment programming in addition to working with Fox Turkey’s channel partners in the increasingly hot TV territory. At FIP, Askin was a key player on co-productions and acquisitions including Mexico’s Academy Award entry Miss.BALA; Gaumont’s upcoming Mea Culpa directed by Fred Cavaye; and Sundance prize winner Metro Manila.
While the phone-hacking trials involving a number of its former staff continue in Britain, News Corp Monday signaled its “long term commitment to London and the UK” by signing a 30-year lease on new digs. The company will be based at the Thames-side The Place, a 430,000 sq ft office building that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter. The London operations of Rupert Murdoch’s news and publishing business, including News UK (formerly News International) will be based in the area that includes The Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building. The planned move was initially announced in July. The new space will house all locally based businesses like The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers, Dow Jones and HarperCollins in the same spot for the first time. The move will take place this summer. News UK CEO Mike Darcey said, “There can be no clearer signal of our determination to secure a sustainable future for the world-class journalism we produce than the commitment we make today. This is a commitment by our company to London and the UK for the next three decades. Our titles will evolve, our relationships with our readers will strengthen and our mission to report, analyze and challenge the world will continue.”
A recent study by Deloitte says that the value of premium sports broadcast rights worldwide will increase to $24.2B in 2014. That reps a 14% rise on 2013. The report comes as UK titan BSkyB battles it out with comer BT and France’s Canal Plus is trying to fend off Al Jazeera-owned BeIN Sport. Those fights are inflating prices across the markets. The increase in rights fees this year, Deloitte says, will be driven by new agreements with certain top tier European domestic football (soccer) leagues and major North American sports leagues. About three-quarters of the total value of premium broadcast rights fees will be generated by 10 competitions that include the top domestic soccer leagues in major European territories, plus the UEFA Champions League, and the four major North American professional leagues, including Major League Baseball. Overall, that sport along with broadcast deals for England’s Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga are expected to be the drivers. European football’s top-tier domestic leagues and top clubs competitions will generate a staggering $9.8bn of the total in 2014. According to a Deloitte analyst, “We see no signs that the premium sports rights value bubble is about to burst, rights fees for live content to premium properties overall will continue to grow. Premium live sport delivers large audiences, typically characterized by an attractive demographic profile. It drives subscriptions and generates advertising for broadcasters, particularly in an increasingly altered media landscape. In some cases, premium sports broadcast rights fees have been insulated from wider economic pressures by multi-year contracts.”
There was some breathless reporting on some websites Monday about comments made by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. Queried by The Wall Street Journal, Fellowes said he didn’t “know yet if there is a season 6, but it’s not going to go on forever. It won’t be Perry Mason.” This led to rampant headlines of a cap on the hit Brit period drama that just debuted its 4th season in the U.S. on PBS on Sunday. It’s long been known that Fellowes is signed on for NBC drama The Gilded Age with a script commitment and significant penalty attached. He’s previously said that if NBC picks up the show, he’ll be writing it when Downton “finishes.” Were Downton to carry on, he said in February 2013, “it would be with other writers. Perhaps with me supervising, but with other writers.” When I asked Gareth Neame about Fellowes’ comments at the time, the exec producer and head of Carnival Films, which makes Downton, said, “The show is in rude health and neither Julian nor I have plans to end it anytime soon.” Fellowes said in June of Downton, “We’re always reading in the papers when it’s ending, but we don’t know when it’s ending ourselves so how can some journalist know? I think it’s still got some legs to it.” What is known is that Downton has been renewed for a 5th season to come next year.
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