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Sky signs FX, Roughcut comedy pacts

UK satcaster BSkyB has agreed two new co-development deals including a two-year partnership with US-based FX networks to produce comedy programming.

The agreement will see the broadcasters, which are both part-owned by 21st Century Fox, co-fund and co-develop original, half-hour, post-watershed shows for FX Networks and Sky’s UK and Irish channels including Sky1 HD and Sky Atlantic HD.

Lucy Lumsden, Sky’s head of comedy, said the agreement would allow both companies to develop “distinctive, brand new comedy and further strengthen our commitment to original home-grown programming.”

It’s the second significant transatlantic collaboration for Sky this year, following January’s expanded deal with HBO that will see the pair co-commission drama.

Sky is in the process of investing £600m in original British production across its channels, with this latest deal building on the broadcaster’s attempts to ramp up its comedy programming that first began in 2009.

The broadcaster has also agreed a new deal with UK-based production outfit Roughcut TV to co-develop new comedy programming with an international appeal.

The shows will be aimed at Sky 1 HD and Sky Living HD and once commissioned will be distributed internationally by the firm’s distribution arm, Sky Vision.

Roughcut was formed in 2007 by comedy producer Ash Atalla (The Office, The IT Crowd) and the firms have previously worked together on supermarket-based sitcom Trollied, which has been commissioned for a fourth season.

The deal marks the first time that Sky has agreed a partnership with an independent production company that includes both the co-development of new projects and international distribution.

Meanwhile, BSkyB’s chief financial officer Andrew Griffith has revealed the firm will be launching a new download-to-own service for movies. It will look to challenge the likes of Apple’s iTunes Store and become part of the existing Sky Store service.


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