WRM venture eyes revenue opportunities

Rights group plans to build content/talent agency hybrid

LONDON -- U.K.-based content management group World Media Rights aims to grow revenue tenfold to £100 million ($166 million) within the decade, if plans to build a content rights/talent agency hybrid remain on track, chairman Andrew Neil said Wednesday.

Launched four years ago by Neil -- a former editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times who also played a role in the launch of Fox News -- WMR aims to evolve the traditional agency model by cross-pollinating TV and literary talent across different parts of the business.

In addition to creating television and multimedia opportunities for its roster of historical, factual and political writers, WMR aims to add talent representation for after-dinner speakers as well as film and theatrical talent to its books.

WMR is also looking to put together deals that give it a stake in the intellectual property rights in lieu of the traditional commission model, an arrangement that is legally permitted in the U.K.

"We're not sure the future is the agency commission model. We might like to own some rights," Neil said.

"It gives us a stake in expanding everything the talent can do, and we won't be in the situation where all our assets can simply walk out of the door," he added.

Neil, a high-profile U.K. broadcaster and journalist -- launched the WMR venture four years ago with a $50 million investment fund aimed at securing third-party rights for multiplatform distribution, and hired former BBC executive Alan Griffiths as chief executive.

WMR recently added Emmy award winner Matthew Barrett as creative director, and is in negotiations with a major U.S. broadcast network for "World War II in HD Color," a documentary feature series with hundreds of unseen wartime clips.

The group now combines wartime and historical archive company Nugus Martin, a TV rights fund aimed at acquiring and exploiting program rights and recently integrated literary agency Peters Fraser Dunlop.