S4C has sold its share in Fireman Sam – the pre-school animation series it first broadcast in 1987 – to the property’s co-owners, HIT Entertainment.
As part of the deal, S4C will continue to broadcast existing and new shows and retains all Welsh language rights. The Channel will also remain on board as Executive Producer for a new sixth series of Fireman Sam, due for delivery in spring 2008.
Series 6 also includes an advance DVD special taken from the new series and a 60-minute special to be released in 2009.
Over the past 20 years, Fireman Sam has grown into an internationally renowned pre-school brand, broadcast in over 90 countries, in dozens of languages. Series 5, made in 2002, is currently airing on S4C in Welsh under the title Sam Tân and in English on the BBC.
Iona Jones, S4C’s Chief Executive said: “This deal made both commercial and strategic good sense and is in line with the Channel’s policy of reassigning programme rights. Fireman Sam is an important part of our children’s schedule. The revenue from the sale will enable us to progress other strategic aims, including the expansion of our Welsh language children’s services.”
Bruce Steinberg, Chief Executive, HIT Entertainment said: “We are enormously proud of the rich heritage Fireman Sam holds in the Welsh and international markets. We are excited about taking the series to the next level both creatively and commercially and we look forward to working with S4C and our creative partners on the new Fireman Sam episodes.”
S4C is a public service broadcaster providing a range of high-quality Welsh language programming across multiple platforms, including broadband. S4C is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to a statutory formula. Additional commercial income is generated from programme and advertising sales. Most of S4C’s programmes are commissioned from the independent production sector. S4C has a strong reputation in the field of children’s programming; its most recent project is Hana’s Helpline, a brand new pre-school animation that has already been sold to a dozen countries world-wide. S4C has recently announced its ambition to establish a separate children’s channel; it will shortly begin public consultation on the project.
About HIT Entertainment
HIT Entertainment, owned by private equity investment group Apax Partners since June 2005, is one of the world's leading independent children's entertainment producers and rights-owners. HIT's portfolio includes internationally renowned children's properties, such as Bob the Builder™, Barney™, Fireman Sam™, Thomas & Friends, Pingu™, Rubbadubbers™ and Angelina Ballerina™. HIT acts as a representative for The Wiggles® in the UK, US and Canada and as worldwide representative for The Jim Henson Company’s library of classic family brands, including Fraggle Rock™. HIT also owns the Guinness World Records™ publishing and television property. Launched in 1989, HIT’s lines of business span television and video production (including studios in the US and the UK), publishing, consumer products licensing and live events. With a catalogue of more than 1,000 hours of young children's programming, HIT sells its shows to more than 250 countries worldwide, in more than 40 different languages and has operations in the UK, US, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan. In 2005, the Company joined Comcast Corporation, PBS and Sesame Workshop to launch PBS KIDS SproutSM, a 24-hour digital cable channel and VOD service for preschoolers. For more information, visit www.hitentertainment.com.