Technicolor, NBC ink deal

Covers international distribution of Universal channels

NBC Universal has flipped the Denver-based broadcast distribution center it bought last year, striking a new deal with Technicolor, which is taking over international distribution of many of Uni's channels.

NBC Uni acquired the facility as part of its acquisition of Sparrowhawk Holdings and its pay TV channels in a deal estimated at $350 million.

Although terms of the Technicolor deal weren't disclosed, the move gives Technicolor its first U.S. broadcast facility and raises its international profile.

"We manage, prior to this deal, a little over 200 channels," said Chris Carey, chief technology officer and chief marketing officer at the Technicolor Services division. "This deal immediately represents 31 new channels -- over 10% growth -- with substantial potential to grow this as part of this relationship with NBC Universal."

In addition to taking over the distribution center, Technicolor has completed a long-term agreement to provide NBC Uni with international broadcast distribution and media management services.

With the sale of the site, NBC Uni hopes to focus on programming and channel development as it shifts away from international distribution. Before the Sparrowhawk deal, NBC had outsourced distribution of its international channels; by striking a deal with Technicolor, it is, in effect, returning to its previous approach.

"This expanded relationship will play a significant part in supporting NBC Universal Global Networks' international growth plans for programming and channels," said Ian Trombley, executive vp media distribution services at NBC Uni.

Under the terms of the service agreement, Technicolor will manage international distribution of 31 NBC Universal channels -- 19 of which will be managed from the Denver facility and the balance managed from existing Technicolor facilities in London, Paris and Singapore.

In addition to NBC Uni's 19 Hallmark International channels, the Denver facility also will continue to distribute four other channels: The two East and West Coast channels of the Hallmark Channel in the U.S. owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, and two Altitude Sports Network channels, regional cable TV sports channels operated by KSE Media Ventures.

The deal does not affect distribution of NBC Universal's coverage of the Beijing Olympics, which begin next month.

Technicolor operates 23 distribution facilities worldwide that service such organizations as ITV, BBC Worldwide, Canal Plus, M6, TV5 Monde, Disney, MTV, Orange and Netherlands Public Broadcasting.

Technicolor is a Thomson brand.