RTL inks digital TV package deal with BBC


BERLIN -- German commercial channel RTL has signed a major deal with the BBC to supply programming for RTL's new digital niche channels RTL Crime, Passion and RTL Living.

Among the titles included in the package are hit grifters show "Hustle" and crime scene investigation series "Silent Witness" for RTL Crime; Jamie Oliver's "The Naked Chef" and travel show "Michael Palin: Sahara" for RTL Living; and BBC classics like "Pride And Prejudice" for Passion.

Many of the series acquired by RTL will have their German debuts on the digital channels.

The deal, the second of its kind between RTL and the BBC, is an indication that Germany's digital niche TV market is starting to come of age. While the number of digital channels is increasing rapidly in Europe's top TV market, few German digital channels have been actively acquiring original series, preferring to repackage and recycle in-house product.

As Germany's digital TV market expands, program licensers are hoping it will provide a new lucrative source of revenue as well as an outlet for more off-beat and niche programming.