ITV snaps up 10% stake in Electric Farm

Broadcaster moves to expand Web exposure

LONDON -- British commercial broadcaster ITV shares may be trading around rock bottom, but it's flexing its muscle in the emerging Internet video market, announcing the acquisition of a 10% stake in Web video production studio Electric Farm Entertainment for an undisclosed sum Friday.

Acquired through its U.S. production unit, Granada America, the acquisition gives ITV a foothold in online drama content creation aimed at a youth audience in the mold of such successes as Bebo's "Kate Modern," "PromQueen" and "Quarterlife."

Current Electric Farm Web drama formats include sci-fi show "Gemini Division" and thriller "Woke Up Dead."

Under the deal, Granada America also is expected to explore new Web video content possibilities for its U.S. factual entertainment brands including "Hell's Kitchen," "Nanny 911" and "One More Time."

Santa Monica-based Electric Farm was founded by former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-president Jeff Sagansky and Disney producer Stan Rogow.

"I'm attracted to this company because they are specializing in scripted direct-to-Internet programming that is economically produced but creatively engaging," ITV Global Content head Lee Bartlett said. "These projects have worldwide appeal to audiences and advertisers alike, with the potential to grow on to other platforms including TV."

ITV shares rose 1.3% to 43p (85 cents) on the news.
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