UK TV Personality Launches Rights Play In Mobile

[by Mike Butcher @ MIPCOM] Andrew Neil, the ubiquitous TV media personality and and former Sunday Times editor, has launched a £30m fund to specifically acquire TV programme rights, distribute and trade them globally (Revolution).
Working not unlike a publically traded company which issues shares and dividends, WMR will allow investors to invest in intellectual property rights of programmes only, not the production companies which made them or the distributors. This way investors do not have to deal with produciton companies and all the baggage that goes with them.
The reasoning is that there is about to be an explosion in the about of content required for new media platforms (mobile, IPTV etc). But right now there is a big disparity between TV production businesses – who are currently geared up only to pitch TV shows to broadcasters – and broadcasters, who are not geared up to license IP to new platforms.
WMR hopes its model will allow production companies to make more of their archives, which TV broadcasters won’t re-commision, and revamp and reformat these old programmes for new platforms, like mobile. Think of Sale of the Century, re-jigged for mobile and IPTV, where the user gets the chance to interact with the show.
WMR is headed by some big hitters in the UK media/tech scene, which, alongside Neil, includes Alan Griffiths, former BBC head of multimedia, and David Honey, founder of sports statistics company Opta Index and a serial entrepreur.

Neil said: “A few years ago it was argued that only large well-funded broadcasters could provide the risk capital for innovative and challenging television production, but now with new media needing electronic content, there are many operators for whom content, and rights to it, are valuable. Broadcatsers don’t have time to exploit rights. They don’t have the focus. We do.”
Neil said WMR would be “Wholly devoted to acquiring and then exploiting a diverse range of rights in multimedia. We’re not a productoin company, not a TV company and not a broadcaster. New media is hungry for content, has the money, and WMR will provide the bridge between content owners and new media.”

Neil will take on the chairman’s role while Griffiths is chief executive and Honey is non-executive commercial director of the new venture.
The concept of WMR’s is relatively new, opening sthe door to allow investors to diversify their risk across a range of rights and across several genres. This is different from investing in a production company or a genre-specific rights firm or a distributor.
In fact, WMR’s business model is not dissimilar to that employed by the King Street Media Group which acquires music catalogues and have so far raised about 100m Euros. In fact it’s probably no coincidence that WMR and King Street share the same investment banker, Robert Fraser of GMP Securities.
WMR plans a number of “major announcements” before Christmas…