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Unscripted TV’s Nonfiction Producers Association, PactUS to Merge

Variety logo Variety 6/5/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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Two trade associations representing unscripted TV producers have joined forces in an effort to lobby more effectively for the needs of independent production companies.

The Nonfiction Producers Association and PactUS will become NPACT, to be headed by John Ford, general manager of the NPA for the past two years. PactUS chief David Lyle will become president emeritus.

The decision to merge the association came as both sides realized that there was more to be gained by coming together than by duplicating efforts to lobby for the interests of their members. NPACT’s combined membership encompasses 99 companies ranging from boutiques to volume producers such as Bunim/Murray Productions and Magical Elves to corporate heavyweights Endemol Shine North America, ITV America and FremantleMedia North America.

The NPA had a head start in recruiting the biggest indie production companies after launching in July 2014. Launched in May 2015, PactUS had an advantage through its association with the PactUK organization that wields great influence in the U.K. market. With the merger, NPACT will maintain a connection to PactUK and seek to collaborate on projects and solving problems for producers that cut across borders.

“It is simply unparalleled in our business for a group of competitors at this high level of achievement to band together for the longevity, vitality and greater good of an industry,” Ford said in announcing the merger. “We face a looming crisis in keeping unscripted production companies healthy, one we can only address by coming together with a unified voice.”

The NPA and PactUS emerged at a time when the business environment for unscripted producers has become more challenging as the largest cable buyers are pushing producers on the traditional 10% profit margin they rely on to fund their enterprises. Most of the NPACT members don’t own their shows outright, leaving them little recourse in negotiations. A few high-profile skirmishes between networks and producers have crystallized the agenda for NPACT.

“Combining PactUS and the NPA into one powerhouse organization offers a tremendous combination of resources and talents, and serves as a turning point that is key to helping preserve, propel and expand the nonfiction content business,” Lyle said. “The new NPACT represents the maverick spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship – the core DNA of unscripted – and will allow us to achieve our mutual goals so much faster.”

(Pictured: John Ford, David Lyle)

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