BBC, Discovery sign 'deal of the decade'

The BBC, BBC Worldwide and Discovery Communications have announced that an agreement on "the deal of the decade" has been reached. This is a ten-year extension to the global partnership which originally commenced in July 1997 and was signed in March 1998. The partnership was to conclude at the end of the year.

An official release informs that the new agreement extends the deal to 2012. The BBC/DCI relationship claims to be unique in terms of scale and longevity within world broadcasting.

When the original agreement was signed the parties anticipated only a five year renewal. The alliance between the broadcasters had been formed to develop television channels and factual programming for the global marketplace, the release states.

The joint venture has three main elements: the co-production of high quality factual programming; the development of jointly-owned television channels around the world, and developing and distributing BBC America. It claims distribution in more than 26 million homes.

The BBC Sales Company licenses, co-produces and distributes factual programming in the United States and Canada on behalf of the BBC and DCI the release states. The BBC/DCI joint venture further monetises these award-winning programmes, through publishing and merchandising, creating multi-million dollar properties that allow for greater investment in high quality programming.

Speaking on this DG BBC Greg Dyke said: "When this partnership was formed, the BBC aimed to be part of the greatest creative force in factual broadcasting globally. Our alliance with DCI means that outstanding programmes such as The Blue Planet and Walking With Dinosaurs have been shared and enjoyed by individuals, families and communities in countries right around the world. This is a powerful service we will continue to build over the next ten years."

Chief executive, BBC Worldwide, Rupert Gavin said: "The partnership with Discovery is a clear indication of how a global partnership such as this builds value and allows for significant re-investment in programming, to the benefit of the UK licence payer."

President and COO DCI Judith A. McHale said: "Strategic partnerships like the BBC/DCI joint venture are a central element of Discovery's growth strategy in the years to come. The complementary expertise of the two organisations allows for cost sharing, creative balance and increased distribution, which gives Discovery a significant competitive advantage in the domestic and international marketplace."

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