Channel 10 weighs in on the future of Neighbours
CHANNEL 10 has assured Neighbours fans that the show is safe despite stalled contract talks in the UK.
Negotiations between Britain's Channel 5 and producers FremantleMedia Australia to renew the iconic soapie, now in its 33rd season, are reported to be deadlocked.
Angry UK Neighbours' fans have already launched a petition, worried that the show will be axed if talks fail.
Aussie fans are concerned too. Channel 5 paid a whopping $500 million in 2007 to screen Neighbours for 10 years but new owners, America's Viacom, are playing hardball.
Losing any part of the $50 million a year currently generated by the Channel 5 deal could doom the show.
Around 150 Australians work on Neighbours.
But Ten has sought to allay those fears saying that it is confident that the show that launched the careers of Margot Robbie, Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem and Guy Pearce, would continue.
"Every Australian drama needs substantial overseas interest to be financially viable, either through pre-sale or distribution," Rick Maier, Ten's head of drama, says.
"But Neighbours continues to outperform Home and Away twice a day in the UK so we have good reasons to be optimistic they (contract negotiations) will be resolved."
Neighbours' stars Natalie Imbruglia and Scott Michaelson with a line up of Logies in 1993.
Insiders say the UK deal has become fraught because Viacom's US chiefs don't understand the appeal of Neighbours.
"Viacom are refusing to sign off on the figures and not understanding the importance of the show," a source said.
"Neighbours has become a British TV favourite and it would be a sad day if it were to go."
But Ten says that Neighbours is crucial in terms of branding and positioning as well as its Australian content obligations and it will do everything in its power to keep it going.
"Reports of Neighbours' demise aren't new," Maier says. "It still has a substantial and dedicated viewership. Its national audience is up nine per cent this year."
One of those fans is Adele who visiting Ramsay Street, Melbourne's Pin Oak Court, earlier this week.
The chart topper would be glad that FremantleMedia Australia is pushing on with Neighbours filming despite the stalled contract negotiations.
"We enjoy a great working relationship with our broadcast partners and already have some exciting story plans for next year," a FremantleMedia Australia spokesman says.