Cartoonmaker to raise £10m
By Kate Bulkley
Tuesday July 12, 2005
The children's entertainment and video distribution company chaired by Rupert Gavin, the former head of BBC Worldwide, is to launch a £10m fundraising to take advantage of new trading terms for independent producers.
Contender Entertainment Group (CEG), Britain's largest independent video distributor, is keen to create more characters in-house as well as distributing shows on behalf of other production outfits.
Mr Gavin, who became non-executive chairman of CEG after leaving the BBC's commercial arm last year, says the company wants to raise up to £10m, probably from venture capitalists. "The new money is about funding the intellectual property pipeline so that we can grow it faster - it's also to take advantage of the change in the terms of trade with independents," he said.
New guidelines for the relationship between broadcasters and independent producers give production outfits much greater control over the rights to the shows they make.
Consequently, CEG is pushing its own shows aggressively and is entering the US market for the first time with its pre-school TV hit Peppa Pig. Next month, five-minute Peppa episodes will appear in 80m US homes as part of Cartoon Network's pre-school morning show.
The fundraising will help to develop other pre-school characters and programme ideas as well as expand CEG's third-party video distribution arm, which owns the UK video rights to shows including US sitcom Will and Grace and ITV hit Footballers' Wives.*
CEG celebrated its 10th anniversary last month and has been named as one of the fastest growing companies in Britain, according to the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. It now turns over £22m after building its early success on another pre-school character, Tractor Tom, with a slot on ITV and add-on merchandise.
Peppa has already averaged 1.25m British viewers a week on Channel Five and the Nickelodeon Jr channel since it was launched in April last year.
*Contender lost the video distribution rights deal with Shed Productions, the maker of Footballer’s Wives in 2004