NBC Universal to acquire UK based Carnival Film & Television

MUMBAI: NBC Universal, which recently acquired a 26 per cent share in NDTV Networks, will now be acquiring UK independent production company Carnival Film & Television Ltd.

Under the terms of the agreement, NBC Universal will acquire 100 per cent of the company, whose current shareholders are Southern Star (75 per cent) and Gareth Neame, CEO of Carnival (25 per cent). NBC Universal’s acquisition also includes library rights to Carnival titles, as well as distribution rights currently held by Southern Star.

The deal represents the first acquisition by NBC Universal’s International TV Production division, headed by International TV Production president Angela Bromstad. The acquisition is part of the company’s efforts to expand its international business by building production presence outside the US.

The announcement was made by NBC Universal International president Peter Smith, Bromstad and Carnival CEO Gareth Neame.

Carnival is a producer of scripted drama, whose lineup for 2008 has included Hotel Babylon (BBC) and Midnight Man, Harley Street and the forthcoming Whitechapel (ITV). Carnival was founded in 1978 and has produced 400 hours of popular drama for TV and cinema, including titles such as Traffik, The Grid, Poirot, Jeeves and Wooster, Hotel Babylon (Series 1-3), Rosemary and Thyme, As If, The Whistleblowers and The Old Curiosity Shop. The company has received more than 70 national and international awards and nominations including Academy Awards, BAFTA and RTS Awards. The company’s clients have included major UK broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.

NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker said, "International growth is one of our key strategic priorities, and that includes boosting our ability to create programming for specific local audiences around the world. This acquisition will jump-start our efforts in the very important UK market. Carnival has a great track record, and we are excited about helping this first-class operation become even more successful".

Smith added, "This exciting agreement represents a further step towards our goal of complementing our quality brands with the capacity to produce quality, compelling local TV content with global appeal."

Neame said, "I am excited to bring the company into the global brand that is NBC Universal under this groundbreaking deal, which offers great strategic opportunities for Carnival and all the talent who work with us. As a unique production model in the UK, I believe we will have so much to bring to our broadcaster relationships and the creative community. Equally, as a production base for NBC Universal outside of North America, we will be an important asset for our new parent. I am very much looking forward to working with Pete and Angela and to helping grow an international creative business centred here in the UK".

Bromstad said, "Carnival is a highly respected TV production operation and we are delighted to welcome them into the NBC Universal fold. We feel this deal will prove an excellent strategic fit and present abundant international growth opportunities into the future."

The acquisition by NBC Universal represents a major strategic move into TV production outside the US and a key opportunity to enhance distribution and format production. The deal is part of NBC Universal’s ongoing international growth strategy aiming to more than double non-US revenues by 2010, and follows the acquisitions of Sparrowhawk Media and a 26 per cent share of NDTV Networks in India, as well as recent NBCU international channel launches, such as the launch of Sci-Fi Channels in Japan, Russia, Asia and Eastern Europe. Continuing NBC Universal international growth initiatives centre around further international pay-TV channels expansion, local TV and Film production and digital initiatives, alongside a focus on strategic growth markets.

On completion of the transaction, Carnival will be merged into NBC Universal’s International TV Production division which is managed by Angela Bromstad, President, International TV Production, based in London.