The media-negotiating unit of Interpublic Group of Cos., Magna Global is launching an entertainment division to create TV programming.
The operation will be led by Robert Riesenberg, who moves from executive vice president of broadcast and programming at sibling Universal McCann Entertainment Group to executive vice president and director of Magna Entertainment. He will be in charge of creating programming for TV and video markets.
"Magna Global is now three things," said Magna Global Chairman Bill Cella. "It's about creating leverage in the buying marketplace. It is a knowledge-based company based on our research and data operations. And now it will also be about programming."
Magna Global claimed worldwide billings of $39.53 billion for 2000. In the U.S., billings in 2000 were $19.16 billion. Most of that money is spent on conventional advertising and marketing, but the potential is there for Magna Entertainment to wield some power in Hollywood.
Mr. Riesenberg denies there will be direct competition with traditional Hollywood studios. "Hollywood has a whole distribution system that feeds home video and international markets. We are not in that business. We are in the business of serving out clients."
But he pointed out that Magna Entertainment will compete in the selling process. "When producers sell ideas to a network, the network chooses the best concepts. ... If a good idea has money attached it, in our case, advertisers' money, the network will take a very hard look at what we have to offer."
Magna Entertainment is close to a large programming deal with a cable TV network. According to industry sources Magna Entertainment will place a special emphasis this year on developing urban, multicultural programming, in association with GlobalHue, a holding company for multicultural shops that's 49% owned by Interpublic.