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European cable programmers at MIP-TV.

Less than a decade ago, Europe's cable and satellite programmers were regarded with disdain - the outcasts of the industry and the tin pot versions of "real television."

These days, like the satellite footprints that broadcast their programs across continents, cable and satellite channels are everywhere. This year, an estimated 50 networks from that sector will attend MIP-TV or have plans to.

"We're now treated the same as any other TV station," said Joan Lofts, head of programming at TCC (formerly known as the The Children's Channel), the European cable and satellite service in London. "MIP is very important to us. Things are beginning to improve in terms of people's perception of cable and satellite as real players in the marketplace." Marc Connelly, vp of syndication, licensing and ad sales at MTV Europe agreed: "Every year we've gone to MIP or MIPCOM, business has steadily improved."

Cable and satellite operators are among the biggest buyers attending these trade fairs. "We buy 600 hours of programs every year," Lofts added.

From the U.K.'s BSkyB to the pan-European NBC SuperChannel, they come looking for exciting dramas, entertainment, documentaries, even features to fill their airtime.

Others produce original programming to market at MIP. "It is an extremely cost-effective way for selling programs," added MTV Europe's Connelly, whose network is one of the few satellite services to also syndicate programming.

According to London-based research group CIT Research, European satellite TV services earned revenues valued at about $5.5 billion in 1993. By the year 2003, they are expected to generate more than $10 billion a year.

But the competition is tough. Even MTV Europe, believed to be the only profitable pan-European service, is feeling the heat from local rivals such as Viva in Germany and Videomusic in Italy.

There are also regulatory obstacles. TNT/Cartoon Network has allegedly fallen afoul of the European Union's TV Without Frontiers directive and has been banned from Belgian and French cable systems for being too American.

Whatever happens, cable and satellite services represent the future of TV. Canal Plus, the highly successful French pay-TV channel relayed via terrestrial signals, has invested heavily in French cable and satellite systems, among the least developed in Europe.

At a recent Financial Times conference in London, Bernard Guillou, Canal Plus International's director of development, said: "We intend to supersede one of the limitations in France, that is cable and satellite capacity." He forecast that French cable and satellite subscribers will almost double next year. That's optimism for you.

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Cable in Europe; French television broadcast industry exhibition
Author:Koranteng, Juliana
Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Apr 1, 1995
Words:420
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