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More int'l people looking for things to do at NATPE.

Speak a foreign language, particularly Spanish, and you are guaranteed a warm reception at this year's NATPE market.

The non- English language contingent promises to be quite large this year. In fact, according to Nick Orfanopoulos, the NATPE marketing v.p., it'll be a record turnout, with a particularly impressive group showing up from Latin America.

The Europeans will be there, too, of course, though some of them aren't quite clear in their own minds what immediate, practical purpose their presence at NATPE really serves and whether the costs of the long trip to San Francisco are really justified.

When asked whether he was attending the California sales shindig, David Toscan du Plantier, the international sales chief for France's Gaumont, said flatly, "No. I don't see the point. This is essentially a domestic American sales affair, and they have made it very clear that they don't want to buy our programs. So why spend all the money?"

In contrast, Gerd Richter-Kiewning, the managing director of Studio Hanburg, whose interests are primarily in music and sports, said NATPE was important to him because it allowed personal contacts, discussions of co-productions, possible sales of music library material, and an opportunity to learn something about the American market and its potential needs.

"We don't use NATPE essentially to offer German programs to the Americans. That just doesn't work very well, but - in the sports and music areas - we see opportunities, particularly when it comes to soccer, with the World Cup coming up in 1994 and in America yet."

The Latin Americans come primarily to buy, to look over the new syndicated programs and possibly to pick up shows they've missed at MIPCOM and elsewhere. Geographically, it's certainly the most convenient market for them.

NATPE, which every year goes just a step further in its attempt to accommodate the international contingent, is doing its best, this year, to make the foreign visitors comfortable and to anticipate their problems.

At the Mosconi convention complex, they will have a well-staffed International Service Center, staffed by special telephone operators and translators. A telephone bank in both the north and south lobby will have special phones designated as "Hot Lines," permitting foreign visitors to directly contact the International Lounge and to request assistance, should it be needed.

On Tuesday, January 26th, there will be a special international orientation session, chaired by Bruce Johansen and possibly Phil Corvo, briefing visitors on what to expect. The next day, there will be an international symposium, followed by an international reception. All this represents a much more sophisticated approach to the needs of the international contingent than was formulated in years past.

Several European company representatives, who were contacted, echoed Toscan du Plantier's frustrations concerning the difficulties European programs are having in finding a place on the American air, but emphasized that the face-to-face contacts made coming to San Francisco are worthwhile.

There was unhappy comment about the rising costs of attending NATPE. On the other hand, co-production and co-financing talk is very much in the air, and the NATPE setting is considered a logical atmosphere for this kind of discussion. What's more, foreign sales heads now routinely attend NATPE, making sale; talk easier.

Orfanopoulos expects this NATPE to be very productive for visitors overseas. "I think it'll be even bigger next year, when we are in Miami," he said. 9
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Title Annotation:National Association of Television Program Executives
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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