Realscreen January/February 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 63

042 JANUARY / FEBRUARY '19 INDUSTRY INEQUALITIES EXAMINED After a series of stunning revelations of abuse at the highest levels of Hollywood broke through in 2017, this past year saw a series of high- profi le steps to not only staunch ongoing issues, but to make moves towards systemic changes. Perhaps 2018's most high-profi le story involving alleged sexual harassment and misconduct in the upper echelons of entertainment was the exit of Les Moonves from CBS. The former network chairman and CEO was the focal point of two explosive New Yorker pieces from Ronan Farrow, in which several women went on the record to accuse Moonves of various instances of misconduct, including a situation that resulted in a criminal investigation earlier this year. By December, the CBS board of directors, after conducting its investigation, concluded that there were grounds to terminate Moonves for cause, and therefore would not offer Moonves a severance payout worth US$120 million. In 2018, the spotlight intensifi ed on executive structures in the television and fi lm industries. In the UK, public broadcasters and production companies were put under the microscope regarding gender pay equity and hiring practices. The BBC commissioned a series of reports on various inclusion measures in the hopes of refl ecting and representing the diversity of the UK. The initiative included reports on employees from various groups: people with disabilities, women, members of LGBTQ communities, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Meanwhile, fellow pubcaster Channel 4 increased the numbers of women employed in senior positions, working towards a 50/50 target set for 2023 by C4 chief executive Alex Mahon. The company also saw a reduction in the gender pay gap from 28.6% on March 31, 2017, to 22.7% on the same date in 2018. Film fests have also stepped up their commitment to inclusivity. The Toronto International Film Festival and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, among others, signed up for the Cannes Film Festival-spearheaded 50/50 by 2020 pledge. The goal of the initiative is to promote gender equity and inclusion by agreeing to measures on accountability and transparency. The year saw a slew of docs grappling with the #MeToo and Time's Up movements (such as This Changes Everything, which featured actresses Meryl Streep and Taraji P. Henson, pictured), and the question of workplace equality — a trend that is set to continue in 2019, with several projects pursuing those themes slated to make their festival circuit debuts at Sundance. FB (with fi les from Barry Walsh) With the FAANGs sinking their teeth ever deeper into the content ecosphere — taking nearly two-thirds of all new TV and video revenue in 2018 — the fi nalization of Discovery's merger with Scripps Networks Interactive was just one of the major waves of change crashing over the industry. Coming in at US$14.6 billion in cash and stock transactions, the Discovery/Scripps deal was eventually completed on March 6, and grew Discovery's channel portfolio to 16 (up from 10 networks). The combined company now produces approximately 8,000 hours of original programming annually. Consolidation efforts amplifi ed in the months that followed, with shareholders for 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company (led by chairman and CEO Bob Iger, pictured) approving their estimated $71.3 billion merger in July. In the merger, set to close in the fi rst half of 2019, the Mouse House will acquire Fox's television and movie studio; a stable of cable television channels, including National Geographic; television operations in India; Fox's stakes in streaming service Hulu and British satcaster Sky; as well as a 50% stake in Endemol Shine Group. 21st Century Fox, acting on behalf of Disney, shortly thereafter sold off its 39% stake in Sky to Comcast in a deal worth $15 billion (£11.6 billion). That news came shortly after Comcast triumphed in a one- day auction to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Sky with a winning bid of US$40 billion (£30.6 billion, at £17.28 per Sky share), beating out rival suitor Fox, who valued the British broadcaster at $32 billion (£15.67 per share). "This is a great day for Comcast. Sky is a wonderful company with a great platform, tremendous brand, and accomplished management team," said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts at the time. "This acquisition will allow us to quickly, effi ciently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally." On the prodco front, word broke in June that Endemol Shine Group, equally co- owned by Fox and Apollo Global Management, had hired Deutsche Bank and Liontree to seek a sale that valued the Netherlands- based superindie between $2.5 billion and $4 billion, including debt. Rumors swirled in the months that followed, with several major players reportedly throwing their hats into the ring to snap up the MasterChef and The Island producer, including entertainment talent agency Endeavor and Paris-based production and distribution conglomerate Banijay Group, run by former Endemol executive Marco Bassetti. But one by one the hats were pulled back out of the ring, possibly due to the hefty price tag. In November, the move to sell had been suspended by Endemol Shine's co-owners despite advanced discussions. With the sale halted, Disney will take over Fox's 50% stake in the global producer-distributor when its deal to purchase various Fox entertainment assets closes. Daniele Alcinii M&A REMAKES THE MEDIA LANDSCAPE YEAR IN REVIEW 2018

Articles in this issue

view archives of realscreen - Realscreen January/February 2019