NBCUniversal is set to close its central development unit Tellycopter as part of a wider rethink of its international unscripted strategy, TBI understands. The news follows the exit of David Mortimer.
Tellycopter is NBCUniversal’s centralised creative and development unit, based in London and working across its wider network of entertainment prodcos, which include Chocolate Media, Monkey Kingdom and Lucky Giant.
NBCU describes Tellycopter as dedicated to developing and breaking formats in factual and factual entertainment. Informed sources have told TBI it will now close, in the wake of Mortimer’s decision to leave, and an ensuing creative rejig.
Each of the entertainment prodcos in the group still has its own development resources.
Job losses are anticipated in the wake of the Tellycopter closure, although not certain as NBCU decides how to implement the restructure at its unscripted operation.
NBCUniversal confirmed changes were afoot and issued this statement to TBI: “Following David Mortimer’s departure, we are reviewing our unscripted strategy and taking the necessary steps to reposition ourselves for future growth.”
Recent Tellycopter projects include Wedlocked, a wedding format that came out of the unit and was created with MTG channel TV3, and which NBCU’s formats sales team was pushing at MIPTV earlier this year. No confirmed deals have followed.
It also developed a Scrabble-based gameshow, which UK broadcaster ITV ordered as a non-TX pilot earlier this year, with a view to green lighting a full series for its daytime schedule, although that has not yet happened.
Tellycopter’s head of entertainment, Matt Tiffin, recently left to take the same role at Argonon.
NBCUniversal would not elaborate on timelines for the review of its unscripted business, and Mortimer’s next move is also not known. The former indie boss and BBC exec was vice president, factual development at NBCU, joining three years ago.