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Rialto Comes To The Small Screen


Rialto Comes To The Small Screen

The all-new Rialto Channel is to launch on SKY from November 1. The Sundance Channel will re-brand and re-launch under the name of its key shareholder Rialto Entertainment, aligning the channel more closely with its sister cinema chain, Rialto Cinemas.

Rialto Entertainment, headed by directors David Ross and Kelly Rogers, is the driving force behind the successful national chain of cinemas Rialto Cinemas, and also owns the independent film distribution company, Essential Films.

Rialto Channel will maintain its current content of independent and festival film product however, the closer association with Rialto Entertainment will give the channel greater opportunities to broaden its programming with access to new and better film titles.

The channel previously operated as Sundance under a licencing arrangement with Sundance in the United States, with whom it will retain important working contacts. The channel has a long term and valued relationship with SKY Television, however, it has always been privately owned and programmed in New Zealand.

The decision to change the name of the channel and improve its content co-coincides with the now 50 percent shareholding of new investor, Andrew Hawken who recently purchased the combined shareholdings of former Force Corporation majority shareholder Peter Francis, Auckland Health Chairman Wayne Brown and John Barnett the Managing Director of South Pacific Pictures.

Hawken, who was a founding shareholder with successful electricity retailer Empower, is excited about being involved with the Rialto Channel, mainly through a keen interest in the entertainment sector.

“The Rialto cinema chain is established throughout New Zealand and has an outstanding brand recommendation,” says Hawken. “The types of films shown at Rialto cinemas, are the same types shown on Sundance so it was logical to bring the two organisations together under one consistent name.”

Under Hawken and Rialto Entertainment, the channel has already seen an increase to its subscriber base by 30%, making it currently one of Sky’s top performers.

Hawken brings sales and marketing expertise to the venture from his proven success with Empower while Rialto Entertainment can source the best movie titles from around the world.

Hawken explains, “the name Rialto will be synonymous as New Zealand’s brand leader of the best in quality movies, documentaries and entertainment on the small and the big screen”.

SKY Chief Executive Officer John Fellet, is very excited about the new relationship with such a strong New Zealand brand as ‘Rialto’.
“Since the inception of Sundance Channel in 1999, it has proven itself as a very important addition to the Sky service”, says Fellet.

“I have no doubt that the new content lineup along with the valued brand will offer our subscribers an exceptional movie & entertainment service that will see the channel continue to grow from strength to strength.”

Management of the channel will remain unchanged with Glenn Usmar as Channel Programmer and Shona Dale as General Manager.


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