(April 18, 2001 – Burbank, CA) - "In response to changes in the marketplace and the state of economics in the industry, Warner Bros. International Television is shifting its focus and implementation strategy for international co-productions and ‘local-language’ productions," it was announced today by Jeffrey Schlesinger, President, Warner Bros. International Television (WBITV). "Our belief in local-language productions remains firm, as does our commitment to the creation and distribution of globally appealing, EC-content qualifying product," said Schlesinger. "The major difference is that instead of attempting to grow this business organically, we feel we can most efficiently accomplish this objective through alliances with existing production companies and closer coordination with our new Warner Bros. Pictures local production operation." "Our initial strategy was to produce EC-quota, U.S. style programming with international partners which would not require a U.S. pre-sale to begin production. After some initial success, we realized in order to make an impact in what was fast becoming a very competitive area, we needed to increase our production budgets to improve the overall quality. To do that and to ensure long-term profitability, a U.S. sale became required at a time when desirable ‘domestic’ timeslots were not easily available. Adding to that increased competition from local producers for timeslots on major European broadcasters, we reassessed our strategy." "As a result of our reassessment, we decided to restructure our production area, reduce our fixed overhead and position ourselves to participate in the creation of less, but potentially more significant, original international production." To that end, Cathy Malatesta, currently Senior Vice President, International Television Production, WBITV, is leaving the company and has entered into a non-exclusive consulting and first-look agreement with WBITV. "I am looking forward to continuing these successful partnerships and profitable co-productions," said Malatesta. "We found that the production and business models are viable given the right auspices. The key to success is to put the right project with the right partners through a world-class distribution operation such as Warner Bros. International Television Distribution." "For Warner Bros., this is a win-win scenario. We get the benefit of being able to selectively add globally appealing, complementary programming to our library, while reducing our costs and our risks, plus be able to call upon Cathy’s expertise and extraordinary talent to make sure we get the ‘first look’ at prime productions, "said Schlesinger. "This is also a positive for Cathy, whose creativity and productivity have been limited by our budgets and reduced need." Malatesta joined Warner Bros. International Television in December 1994, and has led her team in co-producing or co-financing some 180 hours of original programming with international production and broadcast partners from the UK, Ireland, Canada, France and Germany. And, in 1999, she led WBITV into its first foray into foreign-language television production, with a strategic alliance with Germany’s UFA, followed in 2000 by a similar deal with France’s Lagaradere Medias, through Europe Audiovisuel, to co-produce and co-finance local-language television series and telefilms for their respective local markets. Malatesta joined WBITV from Westinghouse Broadcasting International. As Vice President/General Manager, International, she created Westinghouse’s international distribution company in 1989, and was responsible for marketing and fulfillment, as well as co-productions, program acquisitions and distribution. Warner Bros. International Television is one of the world's largest distributors of television programming, currently licensing some 40,000 hours of television programs and feature films, dubbed or subtitled in more than 40 languages, to telecasters in more than 175 countries. WBITV handles distribution to the international television marketplace (broadcast, pay cable, basic cable, satellite, pay-per-view, video-on-demand, digital platforms, etc.). WBITV handles the international television distribution for its own original co-productions as well as for the product from Warner Bros. Pictures (classic and contemporary films), Castle Rock Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, Telepictures Productions, Tollin/Robbins (selected product), Tony Jonas Productions, CNN and Turner Original Productions (documentaries and reality programs), Warner Bros. Animation (classic and contemporary), Cartoon Network Studios (new animation), and from the former Turner library (Turner Pictures, classic MGM and RKO libraries, Ruby-Spears and Hanna-Barbera Animation).
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