Acorn Acquires ‘No Offence’; Fox Sports/Foxtel Merger; TF1 Spat; Youku Mip Keynote – Global Briefs

SVOD service Acorn TV has acquired the U.S. rights to FremantleMedia International’s crime drama No Offence. The digital platform has picked up the first two seasons of the series, which was created by Shameless and State of Play creator Paul Abbott. The drama, which is produced by AbbottVision for Channel 4, is a police procedural that follows a team of detectives from a Manchester police station. It stars Joanna Scanlan, Elaine Cassidy, Will Mellor and Sarah Solemani and the first season will launch on April 16 2018. Separately, Acorn, which is set for new ownership after AMC offered to acquire RLJ Entertainment, picked up a raft of catalogue content including Sam Neill-fronted Reilly, Ace of Spies, classic BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart and Prunella Scales-fronted comedy After Henry. Don Klees, Vice President of Programming for Acorn brands at RLJ Entertainment, says, “We’re thrilled to partner with them again for several more high-quality programs our subscribers are sure to enjoy. Acorn TV continues to lead the way in curating the very best in new and contemporary British dramas and No Offence is another high caliber addition with its fresh take on police procedurals mixed with cutting edge humor.”

News Corp’s Fox Sports is to merge with Foxtel, a joint venture between Rupert Murdoch’s company and Telstra, by the end of June. This comes three months after the Australian regulator dropped its opposition of the deal. News Corp will own 65% of the company with Telstra owning 35% with Foxtel’s chief executive Patrick Delaney running the operation. The new company will put a greater emphasis on live streaming and expanding its library of local content. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2018. News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said the combined company will “mark the dawn of a new era” for its Australian business and said it would be a “formidable force”. “We will be able to use our powerful media platforms to promote the unique sports and entertainment assets in the two companies, and improve services for consumers and advertisers,” he added.

An escalating carriage dispute in France has led to telecoms giant Orange threatening to cease airing channels owned by leading private broadcaster TF1 if the latter continues to demand fees for content available via other distributors. Orange boss Stéphane Richard is “ready to cut off TF1,” he told Le Figaro which reports that TF1 is seeking €25M (US$31M) from Orange. This latest stand-off follows a move by pay-TV group Canal Plus to cut TF1’s signal from its Canal Sat platform late last week, citing unreasonable fees (the photo to the right is the message that comes up on your TV screen when trying to access TF1’s main channel). In the meantime, it’s estimated that TF1 lost 1.1M viewers in the past week.

Yang Weidong, President of YoukuAlibaba Media & Entertainment Group, is to give a keynote address at Mip TV in April. Weidong, who took on the Alibaba role in December 2017 after running Youku since October 2016, will reveal the company’s international partnership strategy at the TV market and conference in Cannes, which run April 9 to 12. Weidong has been responsible for growing the company’s original content drive, overseeing the launch of a number of “super series” as well as the launch of a number of variety shows and created the MARS Intelligence Agency series. Asian drama will be a focus at Mip TV with other speakers including executives from HBO Asia, Viki and Hooq.

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