ITV, Hunan TV team for international growth

Three-year deal includes new, established formats

LONDON -- ITV Studios has secured a major foothold in the Chinese television market through a new format partnership with Chinese broadcaster Hunan TV, under which the companies will work to develop and license entertainment and unscripted formats for broadcast on Hunan Satellite Television beginning this year.

The three-year deal was announced by Ouyang Changlin, president of Hunan Television, and Lee Bartlett, managing director of ITV Studios, the production division of Britain's leading commercial broadcaster, ITV.

It will see the Chinese entertainment broadcaster -- which reaches 58 million viewers -- license multiple formats over the next three years from ITV Studios, home to such global formats as "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" and "Hell's Kitchen."

The companies will also co-develop, create and jointly own a slew of new locally created formats -- to be produced for the Chinese market by Hunan TV, and be represented internationally by ITV Studios.

"China's television format industry has tremendous potential for international growth and, until now, has been relatively untapped," said Bartlett, who added that the partnership would showcase China's production skills to the global television market.

Hunan Television's Changlin said the collaboration would lead to a raft of new shows for its audience in China as well as overseas.

The deal, which was also put together by ITV Asia head James Ross and format head Remy Blumenfeld, is an example of ITV Studios' partnership approach the broadcaster is pursuing under Bartlett, which has also seen ITV Studios strike format development deals with companies including Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Entertainment and Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment in the past 12 months.

"We consider this to be a truly unique agreement which will provide ITV Studios and Hunan with the framework to create, produce and showcase to China, and the world, the skill and originality of China's finest television makers," said Blumenfeld, ITV Studios' director of formats.

The companies have already hosted "producer exchanges" to share expertise and understand each other's markets and will look at new ways of working together.

"It's our ambition to work with Hunan in creating a portfolio of compelling 'must-see' shows for the domestic broadcaster, which our sales force will then sell to the global market," added Blumenfeld.
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