Media Medium
7 December 2000


Can Independents save their brands?

Independent TV producers like Hat Trick have right on their side,
but their chances of hanging on to their brands are slim.

In an open letter to the government, four leading independent production companies have put the case for keeping rights to their own programmes. Current practice, apart from ITV, is for broadcasters who commission programmes to insist on purchasing all rights. The Indies' case is that they are the drivers of creative programming and they need to hold on to their resources. The big broadcasters have no time or energy to promote programmes as individual brands, or adequately market them, whereas the indies "have a passion and a hunger which no broadcaster could ever match".

Passion and hunger are certainly true of Hat Trick, judging from its horoscope (April 30 1985). As a hungry Taurus with a triangle of planets in money-minded earth signs, this is a company with sound business sense which is well capable of maximising its resources. But it is no dull clod, with sparky, irreverent Uranus rising in enterprising Sagittarius. Its innovative abilities are clear in its standard bearing programme, Have I Got News For You, and in its foreign transactions it has made a big impact the competitive US market with Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Hat Trick gets its name from a lively Mercury, the planet of tricks and trade, linked to pushy Mars, and this also gives it brilliant potential to increase revenue for new research and production through brand development.

Leading the battle at Hat Trick are joint managing directors, Jimmy Mulville and Denise O'Donoghue. Despite his comic streak, Mulville is a strategic Capricorn (January 5 1955) - he was, after all, PRESIDENT of Cambridge Footlights Review - and Capricorns have politics in their bones. This coming year, his horoscope is dominated by aggressive, swashbuckling Mars, and ex- wife O'Donnoghue is also a come-out-and-fight Aries (April 13 1955).

Will they pull it off? The astrology shows that the independents have right on their side but sadly, it doesn't support them through to victory next year. Hat Trick's Mercury is moving to oppose Pluto and since Pluto is a god with no altar of appeal, the likely response is refusal from the broadcasters and a deaf ear from the government. The indies are going to have to find a different contractual way of sorting this out and protecting their brands, but with such a smart Mercury, expect Hat Trick to pull some other ingenious rabbit out of its hat.

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