23 September 2003
Penguin Group launches television division
New York, New York - John Makinson, Chairman and CEO of the Penguin Group,
today announced the formation of a new division, which will be called Penguin
Television. Created from the Pearson Broadband Television Group, this new entity
will be based in Pearson's London headquarters and headed up by John Hollar, who
founded Pearson Broadband in 2000 after a distinguished career with PBS in the
Penguin Television will specialize in two areas: factual, non-fiction
documentary programming and children's programming. The company already
has more than 30 hours of television currently in development, and several
projects are either finished or will complete production later this year.
"This new venture is a huge opportunity for us," said Mr. Makinson. "It
is already well advanced with several productions that draw on content from
Penguin and DK and we expect it to contribute to our bottom line from day one.
We're very pleased to have someone with John's extensive experience and
background lead this new division."
Mr. Hollar commented, "Penguin Television will add a new dimension to the
Penguin brand and help Penguin's best projects make the natural leap to
worldwide television. We've had a warm welcome from publishers in the UK and the
US and have at least two dozen exciting ideas on the drawing
Penguin Television will be expanded from Pearson
Broadband's international TV library of 150 titles, which are sold in more than
80 countries and 35 languages around the world.
Penguin Television programming includes:
- Backyard Science , a fifty-two part series for ages 9-12, ties in with the DK Backyard Science books and kits. It will finish production in Australia in December and is pre-sold in several major TV markets worldwide.
- The Way Things Work , a 26-part animated series based on the well-known DK title, is scheduled to debut on BBC2 in the fall and is pre-sold in more than a dozen countries.
- 1421, a two-hour historical documentary on China's epic naval exploration of the world, is in production in London and on location in China, and will debut in the United States on PBS in 2004.
- The Essential Shakespeare is being developed in association with the forthcoming DK handbook on Shakespeare. It puts Shakespeare's major works in historical perspective with actual dramatic productions from some of the best directors in the world.
Destination America is being co-developed with DK in London. It is a major multi-part documentary tracing the history of immigration to the United States in the 19th and 20th Centuries, told through the stories of actual families in both their home countries and in America. David Grubin, winner of multiple Emmy Awards in documentary television, will be the producer.
Penguin Television will also continue to expand its existing television
production in China as part of Pearson's overall strategy for this growing
market. "Beijing to London Taxi", a 13-hour travel documentary on the
journey of two Chinese passengers and a London cabbie in a black cab from
Tiananmen Square to Trafalgar Square, became a major hit in China and captured
landmark sponsorship from Kodak and the mobile communications giant China
John Hollar joined Pearson in 2000 to create Pearson Broadband and led the
company from start-up to expansion in television, broadband digital content and
international co-productions. Before joining Pearson he was Executive Vice
President of PBS in the United States, where he founded the operating division
responsible for PBS's online, video/DVD and education businesses.
Pearson Broadband led the development of the KnowledgeBox“ digital curriculum
system in the United States, Asia and the United Kingdom. KnowledgeBox
will become a product line of Pearson Education as Mr Hollar's team turns its
attention full-time to building Penguin's brand in television worldwide.
Mr. Hollar's senior team will include Eric Jones, Executive Vice President;
Simon Jollands, Director of Television; and Anne Magnol, Head of Sales, all
based in London; and Carlos Alcazar, Vice President, Strategic Ventures and New
Business, based in the United States.
The Penguin Group is part of Pearson plc, the international media
In the US:
Marilyn Ducksworth, Penguin Group (USA), (212) 366-2564 or email
Dave Zimmer, Penguin Group (USA), (212) 366-2687 or email
In the UK:
Joanna Prior, Penguin Group (UK), 44 20 7010 3250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Jones, Penguin Television, 44 20 7010 2916 or email Laura.email@example.com