EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is terminating all licensing arrangements it has in place with Kew Media Distribution, including for hit British drama Line Of Duty, after talks with the collapsed company’s administrator broke down.
Deadline understands that Netflix has the rights to stream a number of Kew Media Distribution titles in various territories and made administrator FTI Consulting a financial offer to maintain these licenses.
Netflix insisted that the majority of its payment to FTI be passed on to the producers of the titles in question, which in the case of Line Of Duty would have been ITV Studios-owned World Productions. FTI is understood to have rejected these terms, leading to a break down in talks.
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Within the next 24 hours, Netflix will take down the titles it has terminated contracts on, meaning that Line Of Duty will no longer be available to stream in the UK (where Season 1-4 are available) and other territories, including Australia. The police drama is a BBC original and was one of British broadcaster’s biggest shows of 2019.
Deadline has been told that Netflix is encouraging affected producers to get in touch directly to discuss the Kew Media Distribution issue. It has even set up a dedicated email address to handle inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Netflix’s termination does not impact licensing arrangements it has in place for two films: Leaving Neverland and Whitney: Can I Be Me. Made by Amos Pictures and Lafayette Films respectively, both producers have already terminated their deals with Kew Media Distribution after it failed to pay them royalties.
As Deadline revealed this week, however, the terminations are a matter of some dispute. Kew’s administrator FTI believes the distribution contracts are still valid and has included the films in its sale of the Kew Media Distribution library. Amos and Lafayette have said they are prepared to take legal action to protect their rights.
Kew Media Distribution was part of Kew Media Group, which went bust in February after months of financial mismanagement. FTI has been selling off the company’s assets piece-by-piece, but the sale of Kew Media Distribution’s library has been complicated due to ongoing rights wrangles with producers.
Netflix and FTI declined to comment on their discussions. FTI referred Deadline to a statement it sent us earlier this week regarding the Kew Media Distribution library sale.
A spokesman said: “The joint administrators, alongside their legal counsel, are in the process of considering all the distribution and licensing arrangements in place including between various producers and Kew. Any claims to termination or otherwise will be dealt with in accordance with the terms of the relevant distribution agreements. We appreciate the continued patience of producers and customers, as we continue to work through a complex situation with over 1,000 titles.”
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