Keshet International

Israeli powerhouse set to rewrite script

ISRAELI production powerhouse Keshet Media Group has joined forces with Nine chairman David Haslingden's Northern Pictures to establish a local TV production house. The studio and broadcaster -- best known for the adaptation of its Prisoner of War format in the US as the Emmy Award-winning Homeland starring Claire Danes -- has also appointed Alan Harris as head of scripted programming at Keshet Australia.

The move is another expansive manoeuvre by the former Fox Networks executive Haslingden, who also has production houses NHNZ and Beach House Pictures under his RACAT banner.

And it continues Keshet's -- and Israel's -- growth in major markets. Israel is the most successful seller of TV formats globally.

Under the joint venture, Northern Pictures has the rights to more than 50 Keshet International properties it hopes to reproduce in Australia.

The RACAT group produces more than 200 hours of programming for broadcasters including Discovery, National Geographic, History Channel, NHK, ABC, TVNZ and SBS, including the Once Upon A Time group of shows and the coming series about the Cronulla riots of 2005, 10 Days That Shocked The Nation.

"David Haslingden has certainly come back into Australia with a hiss and a roar," said Harris. Keshet Australia's competitive advantage was "reformatting of scripted and unscripted formats that have played out in Israel and been reformatted around the world . . . I've got a box of toys that have been proven in other territories to see whether its appropriate for them to be reconfigured for Australia or New Zealand."

Harris believes Keshet's asset as a start-up here is its library of programs. They include the recent Israeli hit Fair & Square, a reality show testing tradies, autism drama The 'A' Word and the family game show Sure or Insure.

So why are Israeli formats working globally? "Part of Keshet's ethos and, interestingly enough, from what I know of Israeli production, is they seem to work more on characterisation than localisation. So they can be adapted or reimagined keeping the same characters." Harris said a number of Keshet's comedy properties had interest from Australian broadcasters, but he stressed they do not aim to "transpose any creativity offshore" but rather to utilise local talent, "the up and coming writers . . . From what I've seen, it seems to be the same writers, let alone actors, who are writing everything here.

Keshet International and Northern Pictures Join Forces to Launch Keshet Australia

Northern Pictures David Haslingden and Keshet International's Managing Director Alon Shtruzman to Oversee Keshet's Catalogue through New Keshet Australia Banner

Sydney, Australia May 28, 2013 — Today Keshet International (KI), the global distribution and production arm of Keshet Media Group, and Australia's Northern Pictures signed a joint venture to bring Keshet’s significant slate of scripted and unscripted formats to Australian and New Zealand television screens. The announcement was made today by Northern Pictures owner David Haslingden and Keshet International's MD Alon Shtruzman, who brokered the deal.

Under the agreement, Keshet Australia will be jointly owned by RACAT and Keshet International. Northern Pictures will have the rights to over 50 Keshet International properties, to be produced in the territory under the Keshet Australia banner.

Mr Haslingden, who recently purchased Northern Pictures, NHNZ and Singapore based Beach House Pictures, sees this deal as a key next step for Northern Pictures which is experiencing significant growth into new genres.

"I've worked with Alon and a number of other Keshet executives and Keshet alumni for many years and I've witnessed first-hand their powerful and addictive combination of creativity, and business acumen. Keshet’s growth over the last 5 years has been unrivaled and we are confident Keshet Australia will replicate that success here,” he said. “Keshet is one of the best in the game of scripted and unscripted television, and Northern Pictures has a strong reputation in Australia with deep industry contacts, plus a New Zealand link through sister company NHNZ – it’s an ideal match.”

Mr. Shtruzman believes many of the Keshet shows and formats can be as successful in Australia and New Zealand as they have been in the US, the UK, and the numerous other markets around the world where Keshet formats have found significant audiences.

“We are extremely excited to bring KI's slate to Australia and New Zealand, and I can't think of a better partner than David for this venture.

This year many of Keshet's shows will be produced across numerous countries and continents,” Shtruzman said. “Given the strength of the Australian broadcasting industry and the strongly emerging cable channel universe we believe Australia can quickly become one of our most important markets."

Northern Pictures managing director Sue Clothier describes the Keshet JV as a remarkable opportunity for her team to work with one of the most successful format and original content producers in the world.

“It’s a real coup to be given the chance to introduce Keshet’s original and inspirational content to Australia and New Zealand screens,” said Clothier.

Keshet International (KI) is Keshet Media Group's global distribution and production arm. Headed by Managing Director Alon Shtruzman, it includes Keshet's local production outposts (Keshet UK, Keshet Australia, with more to be announced soon) as well as its global distribution arm. KI's catalogue consists of over 60 tried and tested properties that appeal to audiences worldwide, spanning all genres. Highlights include hit drama Prisoners of War, the original Israeli version of prime time Emmy® winner Homeland; docu-reality format Dear Neighbors, Help our Daughter Find Love; talent show Master Class; cross platform format - 50 Things You Have to Know; reality dating format Girlfri3nds; game show The Vault and 'buddy comedy’Traffic Light, winner of the International Emmy® Award.

Northern Pictures is a TV production company that delivers large-scale factual television to the Australian and international market. Based in Australia, Northern Pictures has a global outlook and is committed to innovative ideas and high quality production. Northern Pictures is part of the RACAT group of companies, along with NHNZ and Beach House Pictures. The Group produces over 200 hours of programming from production bases in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.