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The TV Sales Co.: how the small can act big.

For a small operation with only 75 hours of programming on its international catalogue, the London-based TV Sales Company is learning to think big.

In addition to the 70 program titles currently in development, a major aspiration is to create a long-running half-hour comedy series for a U.S. network. "It will be the hardest thing we'll ever have to do, but we are not daunted," said Nick Witkowski, the company's managing director.

The company's ambitious goals are reflected in the philosophy of its parent company, SelecTV, the holding group of four production houses: Alomo Productions, Clement La Frenais Productions, Witzend Productions and Witzend, Inc. in Los Angeles, which sells reformatted U.K.'s shows to the U.S.

SelecTV, which specializes in comedy and drama programming, was launched in 1979. TV Sales was formed two years ago, to be SelecTV's international sales arm.

"This year, Fox Broadcasting will broadcast seven episodes of Stand By Your Man, which is based on our comedy series, Birds of a Feather. We also have three pilot orders for the U.S. networks; two for CBS and one called Insecurity for NBC. The latter is a remake of the U.K. comedy series, Nightingales."

In the U.K., TV Sales has secured a three-year deal with the BBC. Recently, Freddie and Max, was broadcast on Thames Television, and Nightingales on Channel Four. SelecTV has also acquired a 15 per cent stake in Meridian, the broadcaster that snatched the southeast England franchise away from TVS Entertainment. "SelecTV, through TV Sales, will be Meridian's main supplier of comedy and drama series," Witkowski stated.

Seven projects in development are launching at MIP-TV. They include Jingle Belly, a 90-minute tragi-comedy TV movie targeted for broadcast during Christmas 1993.

"We also want to make funny TV movies. We are working with Channel Nine in Australia on a movie similar to Thelma and Louise."

"Plus, we're beginning to increasingly concentrate on drama," added Witkowski. Alomo is currently working on A Difficult Young Man, an Anglo-Australian (ABC) four-hour dramatic miniseries. Witkowski also hopes this year's visit to MIP-TV will lead to a European deal. "Big budget co-productions with Europeans do not work, because U.K. humor doesn't translate well. But, Europeans are very receptive to local versions of successful situation comedy formats."
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Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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