The stake is one of three joint ventures Anglia announced yesterday with Home Box Office, the programme division of Time Warner Entertainment. The total cash cost to Anglia is pounds 1.3m.
Sir Peter Gibbings, chairman of Anglia, said he did not see the relationship necessarily developing any further. Time Warner has no equity interest in Anglia.
Under the tie-up:
Anglia will take a 50 per cent stake in Citadel Entertainment LP, HBO's Hollywood-based production subsidiary, which makes movies for network and cable television.
A new company, Anglia Television Entertainment, will be created with Anglia holding 51 per cent and HBO 49 per cent. It will undertake the activities of Anglia's film and drama department, producing programmes for the UK and the Continent.
HBO will acquire 50 per cent of Itel, Anglia's overseas sales and distribution arm. Itel has been distributing HBO documentaries since 1991.
This is Anglia's second strategic alliance. It and Central TV each own 43 per cent of Television Sales and Marketing Services, which sells their airtime to advertisers.
HBO has co-produced programmes with the BBC, Granada and Thames. With Anglia it made Josephine Baker. Citadel produced six films last year including Teamster Boss: the Jackie Presser Story. This year it aims to make 12.
HBO, which serves 23 million cable television subscribers in the US, has been keen to expand into the UK. It had an arrangement to subscribe for shares in TVS if it had retained its South of England franchise.
British investment in US production has been patchy. TVS spent about dollars 260m on the disastrous purchase of the MTM Hollywood studio. Thames Television's investment in Reeves Entertainment, a US sitcom maker, has been lacklustre so far.
David McCall, Anglia's chief executive, said the partnership would strengthen Anglia. 'It will increase the flow of programmes from both Anglia and HBO for the UK and international markets and provide substantial funding to expand into new programme areas including comedy, co-production and co-financing with independent producers.'
WH Smith yesterday scotched speculation that it is selling its 20 per cent stake in Yorkshire- Tyne Tees TV to Granada Group. Jeremy Hardie, deputy chairman of Smith and a Yorkshire director, said: 'We're not actively in negotiations with anyone at present.'