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Budget cuts, the password for MIPTV '91 - studios cutting back market presence.

MIPTV will be hitting its 30th year mark a few months after Europe opens up its borders in 1993. Being close to 30 and approaching a crucial phase for the global entertainment industry, MIPTV has afforded a significant opportunity for analysis.

While the future looks promising, the present seems clouded for many MIPTV exhibitors.

The first thing to notice this year, is the low-key presence of the U.S. majors. Twentieth Century Fox and Columbia do not even attend MIPTV as exhibitors. Warner Bros. has reduced its visibility, Orion has drastically cut its presence, MGM has lost its roar and MCA has dropped its "leadership" campaign. Walt Disney is exhibiting but, if it is with the same presence shown at last MIPCOM, it once again, will be hard to find.

Paramount seems to be the only studio that strives to maintain a semblance of "business as usual" with a strong, visible presence at MIPTV. However, the password for this year's MIPTV is "budget cuts" for all companies -- especially the American ones. Also evident at this MIPTV is the larger number of independent American and European production and distribution companies.

Last year, members of the AFMA reported international sales of $1.4 billion. Add to this the sales generated by non-AFMA members, and one can then estimate total international sales from independent at $2.5 billion.

Similarly, the number of major European production and distribution companies in the past few years has increased, also generating a large sales volume.

If one had to examine the international entertainment landscape by looking through the trade publications and trade shows, the picture would be one of increased visibility, and penetration for the larger numbers of independent companies.

At this MIPTV, some 60 (out of 93 American exhibitors) of the larger U.S. independent companies, tailgated by 15 Canadian and 70 major European companies, could dominate the market. The European are now becoming aggressive and more visible, at least in their own backyard.

One can even argue that the total number of European entertainment companies could now equal that of the U.S. However, the great powers of the American majors are completely tipping the output and sales balance toward the U.S. But, the majors don't need markets such as MIPTV and, indeed, with the exception of Paramount, (which also attends MIFED) the U.S. majors don't exhibit at the AFM or MIFED and now are scaling down their MIPTV presence.

Nowadays, the U.S. majors tend to emphasize their Los Angeles Screenings, where the studios' new output allows direct and cost-efficient sales to the world's largest broadcasters.

The studios like to say that 80 per cent of their sales are generated by 10 countries.

At the Screenings, the independents ride "piggy-back" on the studios, but at organized markets such as MIPTV, the independents now constitute the main attraction.

Years ago, the U.S. majors were said to be "subsidizing" the markets with their glitz, marketing and advertising powers and product. Buyers, attracted by the hoopla, could even find some time for the small cassette-holding distributors.

Thus, in effect, smaller companies that couldn't afford extensive sales bureaus were helped by the majors to meet buyers at the markets.

Lately, however, the studios have shed this industry function, retaining only their prominence in the world markets, often at the expense of smaller independent companies.
COPYRIGHT 1991 TV Trade Media, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Video Age International
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:559
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