Comcast and NBCU come to terms with IFTA


Among the promises Comcast and NBC Universal have been making in their effort to get approval for their pending merger is the pledge to use more material from independent producers. To that end, they have inked a pact with the Independent Film & Television Alliance.

IFTA says Comcast’s adoption of indy material will largely come within four years of 6/1/11, assuming that the merger is closed. It will apply to both members and non-members of IFTA.

“Comcast and NBCU chose to come to IFTA with this proposal, which we believe has the potential to create business opportunities for independent producers that have long wanted to produce for television in the United States again,” said IFTA President-CEO Jean Prewitt.  “This agreement is the result of Congress’ focus on the potential vulnerabilities of independents in this merger and the need to ensure that there are real opportunities for independent producers on the Comcast/NBC platforms. While there are no guarantees attached to this agreement, we are hopeful it will provide solid opportunities for independent producers and NBCU/Comcast to work together in the future, and that other vertically integrated media companies will also embrace it.”

According to a release, the parties came to the following agreements:

* Work with IFTA to schedule an annual development presentation for up to 200 independent producers, including both IFTA and qualified non-IFTA producers/production companies, to outline its upcoming scripted and unscripted reality programming needs

* Arrange meetings each year with creative executives from NBCU’s entertainment networks to take series pitches and select from a diverse group of qualified independent producers (the cable group has agreed to take at least 15 pitches and the broadcast group at least 20 pitches in the six-month period following each development presentation, with possible digital platform opportunities to also be explored)

* Allocate funds exclusively dedicated to supporting early development of new projects from independent producers

* Facilitate formal introductions of independent producers of television movies to advertisers looking to produce fully-sponsored MOWs that will be supplied to the NBC Network on a time-buy basis, as the company’s sales and programming needs dictate

* Take submissions for NBCU’s cable networks of professionally produced and completed MOWs, miniseries or films from qualified independent producers at agreed upon times and locations, including IFTA’s annual American Film Market, in a good faith effort to consider independent programming that may fit specific needs

* Have Comcast Cable meet with IFTA, with the two developing a plan to develop a direct business relationship under which independent producers can license their content to Comcast Cable for distribution on new media platforms