TV3 plots new €750,000 Saturday night television show with Zodiak Media

Station in discussions with well-known figures in comedy

TV3 is in advanced discussions with Zodiak Rights, the international TV rights business of Zodiak Media with revenues of $800 million a year, to develop a major new Saturday night television format.

The co-owned project has a budget of €750,000 and will be co-produced by TV3 and RDF Media, a production division within Zodiak.

After launching in Ireland, TV3 and Zodiak hope to sell the format, which they will jointly own, internationally.

RDF has previously produced popular international formats such as Secret Millionaire and quiz show Tipping Point which have been sold around the world. Andrew Byrne, head of development for TV3, said: "The new format is very different and completely unique to TV3. We are very excited about our new impending partnership with Zodiak Rights and RDF and we see this as a big step forward in the future of 3Studios and the ambition and scale of programming that we want to achieve."

Jeff Ford, the station's director of content, is understood to be in discussions with well-known names working in the comedy sector to host the new show which will go out before rival RTÉ's flagship The Saturday Night Show .

TV3 also attended MIPTV (Marché International des Programmes de Télévision) this week in Cannes in order to try and sell its formats overseas.

'Big commitment'
At the event France 2, a French public television channel, said it planned to invest €200,000 in developing a pilot version of TV3's game show The Lie , which is distributed by Red Arrow Ireland. "It's a big commitment for a French broadcaster but France 2 has moved swiftly on the format and has already agreed a production date [18th May]," Mr Byrne said. Red Arrow is in talks with S4C (Wales) and ITV (UK) about selling on the format further, he said.

UK distributor DRG, meanwhile, said at MIPTV it had sold another TV show, Keith Barry: Brain Hacker , to New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, China and France.

TV3, which is owned by private equity firm Doughty Hanson, has been investing in new shows and formats this year since buying out its substantial debts to the former Anglo Irish Bank at a steep discount. The loan buyout was majority financed by investment managers BlueBay, which is a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, with bridging finance from Doughty Hanson.