ITV is closing The London Studios at South Bank as part of a redevelopment of the site as its headquarters. The studio has been home to such programs as Upstairs Downstairs and, more recently, Ant & Dec’s Satruday Night Takeaway and The Graham Norton Show. In an email to staff that was seen by The Guardian, ITV boss Adam Crozier wrote, “We’ve given very careful consideration to what our plans mean for the London Studios, which would require significant investment to replicate within our proposed South Bank redevelopment. Looking ahead, we believe that this investment would not be core to the strategic priorities of the ITV Studios business.” But British media and entertainment union Bectu calls the move “a betrayal of staff” and questioned whether the decision was driven by the possibility of a sale of ITV which has been speculated since Brexit. The news comes a week ahead of ITV reporting full-year results. The studio site was originally South Bank Television Centre where classics Father Ted and Blind Date were made.
China’s leading search engine Baidu has raised approximately $1.5B to fund streaming platform iQiyi.com amid increasing competition from the likes of Alibaba and Tencent. China Daily reports Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li Yanhong said, “iQiyi has been a quality asset and an important part of our ecosystem. With continuous support, Baidu will empower it with artificial intelligence technologies in the future.” As of December 2016, iQiyi had 481M monthly users. The platform has deals in place with such studios as Lionsgate, Sony and Fox.
Filmmakers and actors in Croatia are banding together to urge authorities not to make changes to the current system of financing movies which they fear could result in undue political influence on the industry. A campaign is being launched in Zagreb under the slang title “Puk’o nam je film” which Balkan Insight translates as “We’ve Had Enough.” The initiative was begun by the Croatian Film Directors’ Guild and is gaining momentum. Financing of Croatian films has become a subject of public debate in recent weeks. This stems from accounting irregularities found at the Croatian Audio-Visual Centre, HAVC, an independent state body that helps to finance and promote Croatian movies. The campaigners maintain auditors are mistaken in their findings and fear that a new system could be put in place where by all films require the approval of the Culture Minister, thereby representing strong political influence on filmmakers.