Irish production company Screentime ShinAwiL has become a partner of global production hub the Banijay Group as part of a major acquisition involving the French firm.
The Banijay Group announced earlier this week that it had bought a majority stake in Australian producers Screentime PTY, which has owned a minority share in Screentime ShinAwiL since 2003.
The deal effectively means that Banijay will now take ownership of that minority stake as well as an interest in Screentime’s New Zealand affiliate.
Speaking to IFTN, Larry Bass, CEO and majority shareholder in Screentime ShinAwiL, praised the deal, which will give Screentime ShinAwiL access to Banijay’s distribution arm, Banijay International.
He said: “It effectively means that we get an exclusive arrangement from a two-way point-of-view. It’s a first-look arrangement of any of the Banijay productions, so we’ll get first dibs on them in Ireland and the UK, and they’ll get a first-look on our new formats in relation to anything that we develop.”
Bass added that he believed the deal would help boost his ambitions to grow Screentime ShinAwiL’s interests in the UK market. The Irish company currently runs a UK office in Belfast with Bass telling IFTN that his “main aim and objective” is to open an office in London over the coming 12 months.
He said: “The Banijay Group now stretches across 11 countries and is the fastest growing television group on the planet. Part of what we’ve been discussing with them is our plans for opening up further offices in the UK. We already have our UK offices in Belfast, so our main ambition now is to further that by having an office in London and to work to service the UK market as well as operating successfully in the Irish market.”
He added that Screentime ShinAwiL is “firmly focused on global expansion” and said that the new venture is an “alignment of a lot of exciting opportunities for the company in the next year.”
While the deal will see Screentime become marketed as ‘Screentime: Part of the Banijay Group’, Bass said he did not believe the new arrangement would affect his company’s name.
The Baniay Group was set up in 2008 by Stéphane Courbit and Francois de Brugada. Prior to that Courbit was the founder of Endemol France, which was the largest part of the Endemol Group, the world’s largest independent production company.
De Brugada, executive vice president of the Banijay Group, said of the deal: “We have been keen to extend our presence in English speaking territories but we knew that we needed to be patient and wait to make the right choice. Screentime’s expertise, creativity, impressive IP and attitude excite us and we believe the alignment of both our cultures will ensure a seamless and successful integration.”
Screentime ShinAwiL was created in 1998 by Larry Bass and has created and produced a number of popular series’, including ‘You’re A Star’, ‘Undercover NI’ and ‘Obesity Clinic’. It has also produced localized versions of some of the world's most successful formats, including ‘The Apprentice’, ‘Dragon's Den’ and ‘The Voice of Ireland’.
Larry Bass will continue his role as executive director of Screentime Group and as CEO of Screentime ShinAwiL. Other key members of the Screentime ShinAwiL management team will remain with the company.