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Three markets in two weeks - too much even for buffs.

Three Markets in Two Weeks -- Too Much Even for Buffs

This year, for the first time, there were three major television markets within a period of two weeks in October, two of them--MIFED in Milan and the second AFM in Los Angeles--overlapping. The third market MIPCOM unfolded units customary slot in Cannes.

The results of this market proliferation has been a dust cloud of questions and a good deal of bitterness on the part of both buyers and sellers, including a significant split in the AFMA membership, which now faces the issue of whether to continue its double markets in 1992.

Overshadowing everything is the pending decision of the Cannes Film Festival, on whether it should move its traditional Cannes venue from May to October. This switch would create near chaos in international market schedules, but would not be put in place before 1993. There will be a decision by the end of this year.

Cannes director, Gilles Jacob, has argued for some time that the May dates automatically eliminates a number of major feature films from making their way to Cannes and that Cannes winners are promotionally hurt in the subsequent summer period. Cannes hoteliers and others are also known to oppose the October move.

The only market which would not be affected is MIPCOM, whose director, Xavier Roy, has said that whether or not Cannes changes dates, its schedule would remain unchanged.

In fact, the MIPCOM performance this October confirms its continuing popularity, despite competition from the AFM and MIFED. Roy announced that 7,914 executives had attended this year, compared with 7,459 in 1990. The number of companies registered rose by seven per cent, going from 1,736 to 1,859. A total of 83 countries participated, led by France with 342, Britain with 327 and the U.S. with 296 and Italy with 85, followed by Germany (84) and Spain (83)

Conversations with buyers and sellers established that without a doubt, the overlapping AFM/MIFED markets created a major inconvenience particularly for sellers who had to decide which of the markets to attend. Furthermore, the parallel markets drove home the point that there wasn't enough quality product to support two such events at the same time.

The conclusions were that neither AFM nor MIFED were outstanding this year, with few companies actually leaving Milan towards the end of the week to rush to the AFM, where sales action was equally slow.

Again and again, comment underscored the fact that neither market offered a sufficient array of major motion pictures, since that type of product tends to be sold long before the markets.

It was stressed that the main advantages of the markets involve personal contacts, and a chance for smaller territories to do their shopping.

The situation is not quite the same at MIPCOM which, by all accounts, saw a great deal of business conducted. The big difference, of course, is that the majors--Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, etc. -- invest in a major presence at Cannes, though even there, modern communications have somewhat lessened the practical importance of the market.

MIPCOM also has the advantage of bringing together executives eager to discuss co-production, which, in light of 1992, is becoming increasingly interesting to both Europeans and Americans.

Whether the AFM, in light of sharp criticism from its European members, will decide to repeat its October market next year, is an open question. There is a solid body of AFMA opinion which supports a single (February) market. On the other hand, it is argued that, whether Cannes moves or not, AFMA's abandoning the October session would leave the field to MIFED, which clearly enjoys Italian government support.

At all three October markets, the soft economic situation in both the U.S. and Europe affected business, particularly in the areas of home video and theatres.

MIPCOM clearly benefited from the continuing expansion of commercial television on the Continent, which creates an escalating demand for programming. In the U.K., the settling of the independent TV franchises was seen as giving business a boost for 1992.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:major television markets
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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