Carlton enters $20m US programming joint venture

LONDON - ITV company Carlton Communications has formed a $20m (£14.2m) global programme production joint venture with PBS Network in the US in an attempt to bolster its production business in the face of the bleak advertising market.

The deal -- which Carlton beat Granada, Channel 4 and the BBC to win -- will see the broadcaster provide programming for PBS and for international distribution.

Carlton is expected to provide $10m (£7.1m) of funds for the deal. PBS, the US public broadcaster, will invest $5m (£3.6m) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the US will invest a further $5m. It is believed to be the largest production contract Carlton has won to date.

Carlton will fund its share of investment with some of the proceeds of the sale of film processing unit Technicolor, which it sold to Thomson Multimedia for £1.4bn last year.

Carlton is believed to be looking to grow its international programming business in an effort to make it less vulnerable to falling advertising revenues, which have shown no signs of recovering in the UK.

Carlton's global division, Carlton International Media, will retain the UK and worldwide rights to the content while PBS, which provides programming to 347 non-commercial stations in the US, will hold the North American rights.

Carlton has already commissioned three factual programmes for the partnership, including archaeology series The Big Day.

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