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The Independent Film Channel and iFilm Form Strategic Alliance

IFilm (www.ifilm.com) today announced a strategic equity and content agreement with The Independent Film Channel (IFC), a division of Rainbow Media. Rainbow Media, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp. and NBC, will be investing a 5 percent equity in iFilm. In addition, iFilm will receive on-air promotional time, delivered over several years, on IFC. The two companies will exchange content and cross-promote throughout their Web, television and print properties.

As part of the agreement, iFilm will produce a TV show for IFC that will follow an "Entertainment Tonight"-style format for the independent film world. The show is scheduled to begin airing in Spring 2001, and will focus both on new "indie" films and on film production.

"Our new partners at IFC share our view that the most successful media brands of today will be those that traverse all media," said Kevin Wendle, iFilm's CEO and co-founder. IFilm and IFC intend to work together to make the work of independent filmmakers available to a wider audience. The extension of the iFilm brand to television will potentially make it available to more than 30 million households.

IFilm and IFC will work together to bring to iFilm's Web audience such programming as IFC's coverage of independent film festivals, like the Cannes and Sundance festivals. According to Joe Cantwell, executive vice president of new media at IFC, a few quality shorts from iFilm could also potentially receive TV air time. In addition, iFilm will help IFC to promote its films by showcasing behind-the-scenes footage. IFC currently produces three to five original feature films per year, such as Boys Don't Cry.This will help to fill gaps in IFC's own Web presence, IFCTV.com (www.ifctv.com), which does not take user submissions and showcases only a few hand-selected shorts each month. Last month, IFCTV.com launched broadband distribution of full-length feature films -- under the name DV Theater -- packaged with "cool" multimedia features in the hopes of attracting a larger audience to this form of distribution. The company has licensed films for distribution through DV Theater through 2001.

The Independent Film Channel has long been a media pioneer. In October 1998, IFC simultaneously broadcast the film The Last Broadcast over television and broadband Internet. Of the 175,000 viewers that tuned into the program, about 1,000 were broadband users. While the numbers were not exactly impressive at the time, IFC felt that this trial established the presence of a potential market.

"It's not a perfect medium at the moment," said Cantwell. Nonetheless, IFC does feel that it will be a powerful medium for the future.

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