Cannes / Vienna, April 9 – At 3pm on Tuesday April 9th at ORF’s MIP stand, Richard Grasl, ORF’s Chief Financial Officer, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ming LUO, Vice President of CCTV, Beijing, for the exchange of expertise and for the coproduction of new wildlife and nature films together with ORF’s celebrated UNIVERSUM strand.

Richard Grasl said: “For more than a quarter of a century UNIVERSUM has set international standards for the highest quality natural history documentaries, and it is especially gratifying to see this recognised by China’s  national all-documentary channel, CCTV9. China’s documentary channel has already broadcast a number of our documentaries, and we are now delighted by the prospect of producing together. Our first cooperation, Triumph of the Tomato, celebrates the hidden wonders of the much loved fruit. In a spectacular film shot on three continents, UNIVERSUM veteran Maria Koller will succeed in persuading viewers that they have never tasted a real tomato!”

Luo said: “China and Austria are both countries with a history of creating a brilliant civilisation. Although our two countries are geographically far apart, the people of China are certainly no strangers to famous Austrian composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Johann Strauss. Today’s signing ceremony marks the start of a new stage of cooperation between the two partners in the area of documentaries. I am confident that our coproduction of Triumph of the Tomato will be a complete success. I firmly believe that we will find more and more co-production documentary projects that will help the television audiences of our two countries better understand each other and become better friends.”

On the choice of ORF as co-production partner, Luo tells TV ASIA Plus he was impressed with ORF’s expertise in the documentary field.

“We has no prior cooperation opportunities with ORF because we did not have much knowledge about ORF’s documentary production capabilities,” says Luo. “But after more interaction we have now come to realise that ORF’s documentaries carry substance, so we decided to collaborate.”

Head of Universum Andrew Solomon says that the MOU presents many opportunities.

“Universum has been running for 26 years and represent high end documentary series and increasingly, in order to make programmes around the world with the highest production values, we can’t do it alone. We need international partners, and with the growth in particular of CCTV-9, the all-documentary channel of CCTV – CCTV was looking to do more production and to get more involved internationally – it’s a wonderful opportunity for both sides to combine resources and to co-produce programmes that we want both our audiences to see and that can distributed around the world,” says Solomon.