news digest


Growth in Europe's VOD, PPV set to explode

LONDON — The VOD and pay-per-view market in Western Europe will be worth €3 billion ($4.4 billion) by 2011, according to recent research. The report, issued Wednesday by media analysts Screen Digest, predicts the marketplace for VOD and PPV will double in value from its current €1.5 billion ($2.2 billion). From a low penetration of less than 8% today, Screen Digest predicts that, by 2011, more than 20% of Western European households will have VOD, a 30% increase from current levels.

Ivey COO of Autonomous, After Dark

NEW YORK — Laura Ivey has been appointed COO of Autonomous Films and After Dark Films. The former executive vp business affairs and operations at Odd Lot Entertainment will oversee the growth of new production, financing and distribution outfit Autonomous and horror-oriented producer-distributor After Dark. Ivey will report to the CEO of both labels, Courtney Solomon, who owns each with Hong Kong-based real estate financier Allan Zeman.

'Leno' goes to archives

CBS' and NBC's late-night shows will continue to air repeats this week while WGA and studio negotiators are set to return to the bargaining table today. NBC is digging deep into its "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" vault with five episodes featuring the first headliner appearances of five of today's biggest stars. "Leno" will rerun a 1992 episode with Tom Hanks, a 1993 segment with Julia Roberts, a 2000 appearance by Matt Damon and 1995 episodes featuring Jennifer Aniston and Johnny Depp.

Virgin Comics, Perspective in IP deal

SAN DIEGO — Virgin Comics will partner with CGI house Perspective Studios to create intellectual properties for comics, mobile, games platforms and movies. Virgin Comics, part of Richard Branson's global empire, recently scored a cross-media success when its popular "Ramayan 3392 A.D." comic book series was licensed by Sony Online Entertainment for a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

'Frank' vaults TBS into late-night game

TBS made a bid to become a player in late-night with the premiere of its sketch comedy series "Frank TV," which drew 2.9 million viewers Tuesday, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. The 11 p.m. show, which stars impressionist Frank Caliendo, delivered 1.9 million viewers in adults 18-49 and 1.1 million in adults 18-34. It outdelivered season-to-date averages for original episodes of all late-night talk shows and Fox's "Mad TV" among adults 18-34 as well as all late-night talkers except "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in 18-49. "Frank" follows the strong summer launches of two TBS primetime comedy series, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and "The Bill Engvall Show."

Liberty Global sets $500 mil buyback

NEW YORK — John Malone's Liberty Global has authorized a new stock-buyback program. Under its terms, the global cable operator can repurchase up to $500 million of its own stock. Liberty Global said the buybacks could come through open market transactions and/or in privately negotiated deals.