FremantleMedia, Sony BMG sign 50:50 JV

MUMBAI: Fremantle International Distribution (FID) has signed a joint venture agreement with Bertelsmann’s music publishing business, Sony BMG to maximise opportunities in the expanding popular culture and music event programming market.

Currently, the global music DVD business is estimated to be worth $3.5 billion and is growing at a rate of 10 per cent annually. In the UK, 200 million DVD units were sold in 2004 alone, of which 15 per cent was music-related, valuing the music DVD business at ?60.7 million.

The 50:50 joint venture will see FID, which has distribution operations in London, Berlin, Madrid, Singapore, Sydney, New York and Miami and Sony BMG, which has established relationships with major music artists and on-the-ground DVD operations in over 50 markets, unite their global sales operations in TV programme and DVD distribution. The new venture will provide a unique one-stop-shop for major music artists and other popular culture properties with international appeal.

Under the agreement, the pair will jointly exploit Sony BMG's back catalogue of TV properties as well as invest in music event programming that has the potential to be exploited on television and DVD internationally. The aim is to create and distribute four to six new TV/DVD properties per year and to co-ordinate the international exploitation across all media to fully maximise the potential of each event.

Commenting on the deal, Fremantle International Distribution managing director David Ellender said, "Demand for event pop culture and music programming internationally is strong and we have proven strength in related genres through American Idol, Project Runway, and existing Sony BMG music titles such as Britney Spears: In the Zone, Maroon 5, One Night with Rod Stewart and other music specials. The joint venture will enable us to create with Sony BMG even bigger scale product in these genres and allow Fremantle International Distribution to share in the global DVD market, which will benefit from the TV exposure we can deliver."

Sony BMG UK Visual Media's Solomon Nwabueze added, "No one has yet combined international DVD and TV exploitation in one entity. Artists and creative talent have to enter multiple deals with no co-ordination between TV and record companies. The music television distribution business is more akin to a 'cottage industry' dominated by numerous specialist companies allied to establish record companies or independents with DVD sales focus, not TV. We see this as a logical next step that will be mutually beneficial for both parties and artists."


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