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BALKANS BASH BRAVES IT.

MOSCOW Though it's suffering from the combined effects of Russia's 1998 financial crash and ongoing political instability in the Balkans, the region's premier TV market, Discop '99, is putting a brave face on it.

Pressing on with its task of showcasing the region to international sellers, this year's market (June 22-24 in Budapest) is also focusing on territories that are still developing--particularly the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Attendance at Discop, running in its seventh year, is down from '98 by only about 10%, according to Aurele Rivet of market organizer the Happening Group. This year 270 buyers and 170 sellers will be visiting the Hungarian capital.

Though fewer Stateside players are expected, the quantity of European companies attending has gone up, she confirms. Despite regional turndown, 25 new distribs from the region will be making the trek for the first time.

And the scope of attendees --from Albania and Serbia to Uzbekistan and Georgia--suggests that interest has withstood many of the political and economic upheavals that have hit territories that were already Discop regulars.

With local content quotas beginning to affect many buyers, Discop will be hosting its mini co-production forum, CoproTV East '99, for the second time. Among the 24 producers presenting projects to Central and East European outlets with production funding available are Distraction Formats from Canada, Teleproductions Intl. from the USA, Endemol of the Netherlands, and Turkish Radio and TV.

New interest in the Baltics, which have remained less damaged by Russia's problems than other ex-USSR markets, is highlighted by another conference focusing on players in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Discop will be honoring Andrejs Ekis, president of Latvia's top commercial channel, LNT, as Discop'99 Man of the Year.

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Author:BIRCHENOUGH, TOM
Publication:Variety
Date:Jun 21, 1999
Words:285
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