LA Screenings: BSkyB Faces Legal Question Over ’24: Live Another Day’

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EXCLUSIVE: Since the news that 24 may make a comeback as a limited event series on Fox broke last week, fans have been rejoicing. Today, when Fox formally announced the series (titled 24: Live Another Day), those fans cheered a little louder. But as they did, UK 24 fans asked themselves if and when the series would appear on Sky. Since word broke last week, we have received countless emails asking if the series would be aired in the UK by Sky (well not countless, last count was at 17). The answer to that question, I’m told, is almost certainly yes, but its not as clear cut as previous years.

Why, you ask? Long time 24 fans will recall that the show’s first two seasons were aired on BBC Two until, when Fox and the BBC couldn’t agree terms for the show’s third season, Sky swooped in an secured a multi-million life-of-series deal. As such, that deal gave them not only repeat rights to the first two seasons, but exclusive first window pay and terrestrial rights to all future seasons of the series. The only problem here is that the life-of-series deal may not cover this new entry. “That’s a difficult question to answer this early”, a Sky insider told me earlier today, “legal and business affairs will need to look into it.”

Fox, however, are not nearly as confused. A source at the studio (20th Century Fox Television) tells me that 24: Live Another Day is unlikely to be covered by any existing licensing deals that foreign broadcasters hold with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution (excluding studio output deals across Europe, of course). That source insists that this is not 24 season 9. It is a new entry into the 24 franchise and as such those deals will not cover this new limited series.

I then approached my Sky source with this new information and he indicated that, while he had no idea if that was true or not, if it was he had no doubt that Sky would go after the rights, even if it led to another bidding war, as was seen when they acquired the series back in 2003. “24 is a signature Sky series”, he added, “it’s not going anywhere.”

24: Live Another Day is being written by Howard Gordon & David Fury and will be set several years after the events depicted in season 8. Across the 12 episodes, spanning 24 hours, Jack Bauer will be called upon to once again save the day. The limited event series, which Fox said could be followed by additional such entries in the coming years, is being produced by 20th Century Fox Television, Imagine Entertainment and Teakwood Lane Productions. At present the only confirmed cast member is Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.