EXCLUSIVE: Kew Media Distribution, the British sales arm of the beleaguered Canadian TV group Kew Media, is on the precipice of closure as it stares down the barrel of a winding-up order.
Kew Media Distribution represents high-profile shows including HBO’s Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland, made by Amos Pictures, and World Productions’ hit BBC drama Line Of Duty. But after its parent company ran into trouble last year and was ordered to cease trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, producers including Amos are fighting to claw back the money they are owed from the international sales of their shows.
Now, in a final attempt to recover cash, film distribution company 101 Films has served Kew Media Distribution with a winding-up petition. Such a move is seen as a last resort and, if successful, will result in Kew Media Distribution being liquidated and its assets being sold off. The legal action will come to a head on March 4, when the High Court will decide whether to approve or dismiss the winding-up petition.
Other creditors may wish to support the petition and Deadline understands that a number of companies who are owed money by Kew Media Distribution are aware of the 101 Films maneuver and are considering their options. 101 Films declined to comment on the matter.
A winding-up petition usually leads to the company in question — in this case Kew — having its bank accounts frozen, which effectively ends its ability to trade normally. Kew Media Distribution referred questions about its status to its parent company in Canada, which declined to comment on the winding-up order.
Kew Media Distribution has failed to file its most recent earnings for 2018, with its accounts more than four months overdue. The distributor was nearly struck off the companies register, but this action was canceled as creditors seek to recover money they are owed. Its last earnings, for the nine months to 31 December 2017, show it posted a pre-tax loss of £17.8M ($23M), while it owed creditors £223.2M ($288.8M), the majority of which was for “group undertakings.”
According to the 2017 earnings, Kew Media Distribution employed 40 people. The company’s website shows this has grown to nearly 50 members of staff, based in both London and Los Angeles. At least one of those employees, executive vice president of sales Jonathan Ford, has left the company after 13 years this week. Kew Media Distribution says it manages the international rights to a library of more than 11,000 hours of TV and digital content, including signing a three-year deal with ViacomCBS broadcaster Channel 5 in 2018 to represent three of its dramas, such as 2019 hit Cold Call, made by Chalkboard TV.
Kew Media Distribution’s parent company was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange last week amid a turbulent period for the company. It follows Kew Media Group defaulting on its credit facility after former CFO Geoff Webb filed “inaccurate information regarding working capital” in financial reports. A number of Kew Media Group UK subsidiaries are seeking to extricate themselves from the ailing company, including Awesome Media & Entertainment and distributor TCB Media Rights.
Kew Media Distribution was known as Content Media International until it was acquired by Kew in 2017 as part of a $104M takeover of six entertainment companies. The sales house was first established in 1995.