Sony and Guardian Media Group strike programming pact

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has struck a far-reaching pact with UK-based news organisation Guardian Media Group that will see the US studio gaining exclusive access to its journalism, with the aim of turning the IP into scripted and unscripted shows.

Ravi Ahuja

The partnership, which will be unveiled at Content London today by Sony Pictures Television chairman Ravi Ahuja, will see SPE gain exclusive first rights to the full range of the Guardian’s global output.

The deal covers the studio’s TV production groups, including its US scripted and nonfiction divisions, as well as scripted companies such as Left Bank Pictures, Bad Wolf and Eleven.

Its unscripted, sport and factual entertainment producers, including The Whisper Group, will also gain access, alongside SPE’s feature film division. Three option deals are in the works and set to be announced shortly.

Under the deal, SPE will have access to the Guardian’s current and developing news stories, and to the Guardian archive, containing 200 years of history across articles, blogs, columns, videos and podcasts.

Wayne Garvie, president of international production at Sony Pictures Television, said: “To be able to draw on The Guardian’s extraordinary journalism, past, present and future, to create a new generation of dramas, documentaries and movies, is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us at Sony Pictures.

“We are continually seeking stories that have a distinctive and creative spirit, and connect with audiences the world over, and the Guardian team certainly brings those qualities through their top-notch journalism.”

Keith Underwood, chief financial & operating officer at Guardian Media Group, added that the deal would “serve to evolve and grow the Guardian’s activity in TV and film.”

The Guardian picked up the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for the film Colette in 2021, following a nomination in the same category for the film Black Sheep in 2019. It also has struck recent deals with the BBC, Netflix and Sky to develop projects together.

The agreement, brokered by London agency group, Curtis Brown, will be overseen by a new executive team appointed by SPE and the Guardian, developing content jointly and drawing on unique collaboration with the Guardian’s journalists and contributors.

Underwood added: “Guardian journalism has a well-established track record in this space, with Oscar and BAFTA award-winning output over recent years. Sony Pictures Entertainment brings industry-leading development, production and distribution expertise on a global scale, and this agreement reflects our mutual commitment and shared passion to bring more Guardian journalism to screen.”

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