The BBC and Channel 5 have joined forces in a ground breaking deal
combining their buying power to acquire a package of blockbuster films
from Twentieth Century-Fox worth more than pounds 26m.
It is the first time the BBC has bought in major films with a rival
commercial terrestrial channel, and will mean Channel 5 will be able to
screen the terrestrial premiere of Independence Day, one of the six
biggest box office films of all time.
The Fox deal covers a total of 68 films, with 37 titles exclusive to
Channel 5 and 22 to the BBC.
Nine films will be shared between the broadcasters, with Channel 5
gaining first viewing rights over the BBC to five, including
Independence Day and Speed. The BBC will have first terrestrial
broadcast rights to the remaining four, including Braveheart, Courage
Under Fire and Broken Arrow.
The films will then flip channels for their second screening.
It is a move which signals further erosion of the traditional barriers
between commercial and public service television to compete in the
global TV market.
A source at Channel 5 said the deal is significant because: ‘It’s
important in its implications in what we intend to do with the Channel 5
brand. We will look for the opportunity to back the channel with other
film deals. There will be more to come.’
The coup will encourage advertisers who are looking to invest in the new
David Elstein, who left Sky in September to join Channel 5 as chief
executive, has indicated that big-name Hollywood films are crucial to
driving audiences for Channel 5, as he proved with Sky’s schedule.
Channel 5’s decision to tie up with the BBC in the Fox deal will dent
speculation that it would use complementary scheduling with ITV or
Channel 4 to try to take audience share from the BBC.
It is the second batch of Hollywood films Channel 5 has acquired. Last
month it announced it had bought 144 films from Columbia Tri-Star
costing pounds 6.4m, including Money Train and Basic Instinct.