Beta grabs Canadian series 'Border,' 'Heartland'

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COLOGNE, Germany -- German rights group Beta has picked up hit Canadian series "The Border" and "Heartland" from U.K. group Fireworks/Contentfilm ahead of MIPTV, acquiring all continental European rights for the two series, which air on Canadian public broadcaster CBC.

The two shows are part of a new wave of Canadian-made drama that is attracting attention from U.S. and international broadcasters.

Billed as the Canadian answer to "24," the crime drama "The Border" follows the exploits of a Toronto special police unit that works with U.S. Homeland Security to defend the 49th parallel. "Heartland" is a modern cowboy tale set on a ranch in the Rocky Mountains.

For Beta, which has seen its profile rise with the back-to-back Oscar wins of its titles "The Lives of Others" and "The Counterfeiters," the Canuck series strengthen what is increasingly an international slate. The Munich-based rights group reps several "golden oldie" series on the international market, with such titles as "Baywatch," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "21 Jump Street" in its lineup. But "The Border" and "Heartland" mark a rare foray into new English-language production.

"The acquisition of the two North-American series is part of our strategy to offer international product of the highest quality," Beta sales exec Oliver Bachert said.

While "Others" and "Counterfeiters" have boosted Beta's image internationally, the company's bread-and-butter business remains German-language drama, from the cop-and-dog series "Rex, a Cop's Best Friend" to feature films such as Martin Walz' musical romantic comedy "Melodies of Spring."
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