Meet the Commissioners – Turner

Posted on: Friday 02 July 2010 5:19am

News and information on Turner Broadcasting’s UK portfolio of children’s channels commissioning needs.

Moderator: Anthony Utley, MD, LiveFrame Studios

Speakers:

Michael Carrington, Chief Content Officer, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting

Daniel Lennard, Vice President of Original Series & Development, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting

Cecilia Persson, Vice President of Acquisitions, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting

Turner channels reach 140 million homes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a portfolio made up of Cartoon Network (boys 6 – 12) Boomerang (3 – 6s + Families) Cartoonito (2 – 5’s Pre-school) and Boing (General Entertainment Children’s channel 3-14).

Looking For:

Boomerang (3-6 + Families)

Safe nursery content

Classic cartoons (pink panther and pals and new garfield are recent commissions)

Cartoon Network (6 – 12 boys)

Small number of live action comedy (boy skewed but girl inclusive)

Comedy Animation

Funding: Turner has a range of funding models including co-production, pre-buy and acquisitions, always with a preference for international deals.

Rights: Across Europe Turner would want exclusive Pay TV rights as well as exclusive free to air rights in Italy, Turkey, Spain, France, Germany and the Middle East. Subscription VOD must be exclusive whilst happy to be non-exclusive on free VOD.

Turner revealed a sneak preview of ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’, an ambitious in-house commission from Turner that combines live action with 3D and 2D animation. Without giving two much away ‘The World of Gumball’ is a fun and frenetic buddy comedy about Gumball an eleven year old blue cat and his best friend Darwin – a goldfish with legs. The show uses an exciting mix of illustration and animation styles in a highly original manner that is bound to be a smash hit when broadcast.

The preview was an indicator of the kind of comedy Cartoon Network is looking for: Interesting characters, engaging storylines, something fresh visually – they’re always open to new ideas.

The Floor was then opened up for questions.

1. Do you ever do any factual work?

Cecilia responded that the essence of Tuner Broadcasting is humor and comedy, through entertainment, so Turner would probably say no to a factual pitch.

2. How often do you outsource animation to independents and if an animation company brings you a programme, is there an issue as to where the animation is done? i.e Do you try and get it made in-house?

The team started by reminding everyone how small the window is for UK independents: while they always like to have European input, the Turner studios in California produce 90% of Turner productions. However Michael Carrington was keen to point out that if an original idea was to come from Europe, the animation would most likely be done where the idea originated.

3. How does your business fit with online? How important in the online aspect to your original TV productions?

This was an interesting answer as the team indicated that the Turner content departments are still very disjointed in comparison to organisations like the BBC where the online and on-air process is so intrinsically linked. It’s something they are working on.

4. Can you give more specifics about the kind of nursery content you are after?

Michael Carrington replied that while Turner have acquired a lot of productions (eg Fireman Sam) they are now looking for educational stories but created in a really fun, dynamic and exciting way.

5. Could you perceive of a boy skewed live action project?

Despite being called ‘Cartoon Network’ Michael Carrington replied that he thinks the audience are now probably expecting some sort of live action. Turner are actively seeking a Live Action Comedy (26 x 30’) and a good reference point for content producers would be ‘Round the Twist’. The challenge Michael Carrington said was creating comedy that was relevant to children in different European countries. A Total Wipeout or Prank Patrol type programme could also be something that Cartoon Network might go for.

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