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IFTA inks programing deal with NBCU

The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) has reached an agreement with Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal to provide enhanced independent programming opportunities on NBCU’s broadcast and cable networks, as well as Comcast Cable’s VOD and online platforms, IFTA President-CEO Jean Prewitt announced.

The agreement, a summary of which was filed today by Comcast, General Electric Company and NBCU with the Federal Communications Commission, offers greater consideration for independently produced primetime scripted and unscripted reality programming from both IFTA and non-IFTA members.

The majority of the NBCU commitments will be applicable for a period of four years beginning on June 1, 2011, pending closure of the Comcast and NBCU joint venture. Under the agreement, the parties will create a structure between qualifying independent producers and NBCU to facilitate business.

“Comcast and NBCU chose to come to IFTA with this proposal, which we believe has the potential to create business opportunities for independent producers that have long wanted to produce for television in the United States again,” Prewitt said. “This agreement is the result of Congress’ focus on the potential vulnerabilities of independents in this merger and the need to ensure that there are real opportunities for independent producers on the Comcast/NBC platforms. While there are no guarantees attached to this agreement, we are hopeful it will provide solid opportunities for independent producers and NBCU/Comcast to work together in the future, and that other vertically integrated media companies will also embrace it.”

IFTA Chairman Lloyd Kaufman, a longtime independent filmmaker who has played a key role in the origination of the organization’s advocacy campaign, commented, “This agreement recognizes the importance of independent production to traditional and new media, and the IFTA Board is pleased to have opened this door for the industry.”

Comcast and NBCU have agreed to:

• Work with IFTA to schedule an annual development presentation for up to 200 independent producers, including both IFTA and qualified non-IFTA producers/production companies, to outline its upcoming scripted and unscripted reality programming needs
• Arrange meetings each year with creative executives from NBCU’s entertainment networks to take series pitches and select from a diverse group of qualified independent producers (the cable group has agreed to take at least 15 pitches and the broadcast group at least 20 pitches in the six-month period following each development presentation, with possible digital platform opportunities to also be explored)
• Allocate funds exclusively dedicated to supporting early development of new projects from independent producers
• Facilitate formal introductions of independent producers of television movies to advertisers looking to produce fully-sponsored MOWs that will be supplied to the NBC Network on a time-buy basis, as the company’s sales and programming needs dictate
• Take submissions for NBCU’s cable networks of professionally produced and completed MOWs, miniseries or films from qualified independent producers at agreed upon times and locations, including IFTA’s annual American Film Market, in a good faith effort to consider independent programming that may fit specific needs
• Have Comcast Cable meet with IFTA, with the two developing a plan to develop a direct business relationship under which independent producers can license their content to Comcast Cable for distribution on new media platforms

The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) is the global trade association of the independent motion picture and television programming industry. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization represents and provides significant entertainment industry services to 150 member companies from 23 countries, consisting of independent production and distribution companies, sales agents, television companies, studio-affiliated companies, and financial institutions engaged in content finance.
Collectively, the Independent Film & Television Alliance’s members produce more than 400 independent films and countless hours of television programming each year and generate more than $4 billion in distribution revenues annually. The organization’s premiere event, the American Film Market, held in conjunction with AFI Fest, takes place this year from Nov. 4-11 in Santa Monica.

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