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Traveling caravan bothered by TV markets' boom.

How many international TV markets can the world afford?

The question is being asked in the wake of a recently concluded Monte Carlo, the addition of yet another TV market- FIPA in Cannes next January - and the projected opening of the NATPE membership to inter national broadcasters and distributors.

That television, both as a medium and as a business, is capturing the major share of public attention these days is evident. Theatrical movies are now taking a backseat when it comes to public attention, which is quite firmly focused on the home entertainment area.

As a direct result, theatrical markets like the American Film Market and the Cannes Film Festival now incorporate a lot of TV and video business, with the theatrical deals somewhat diminished in their importance.

The problem, as distribution executives point out, is that the number of markets is not matched by the availability of interesting new product. What's more, the costs of attendance are rising steadily and a number of American executives are weighing the logic of being absent from their offices so often and for so long each year, coming at a time when communications between suppliers and customers are better and closer than ever.

Still, a number of executives queried insist that - particularly in the case of the smaller companies - the eye-to-eye contact at these markets has a certain value, though many of them are staggered by the demands made on them by the sheer number of events.

The latest market is the one planned by FIPA, in Cannes, next year. FIPA completed its sixth year as an international TV festival in 1993 and "tested" a small market on that occasion. According to Pierre-Henri Deleau, the F[PA director, it was a great success, and the FIPA market will be in full-scale operation in 1994.

The question arises, what will this do to the Monte Carlo TV Festival, which follows FIPA by a little over a month and also combines a competititve festival with a market? There are those who argue that, come what may, Monte Carlo is more important be cause deals are initiated there.

As Worldvision's Bert Cohen put it in a letter to Video Age. "The Monte Carlo market has always been a barometer for the coming year in terms of buyers' budget, buyers' mood and general overviews of the European marketplace." Cohen considers Monte Carlo unique and "tremendously important."

The Monte Carlo market people argue that attendance numbers aren't significant, and that the Monaco get-together is - in the words of Wilfred Groote, the Monte Carlo chief - "a club, a boutique, not a supermarket." By implication, Monte Carlo is a convenient contact point between the American majors amd the key European buyers.

How the new NATPE policy will affect the market lineup is open to question. Next year's NATPE is scheduled for Miami, and is expected to attract large numbers of international buyers (the 1993 San Francisco venue already pulled in a record number of executives from abroad).

NATPE is in January, FIPA is the same month, followed by Monte Carlo, then MIP (April 18-21), the Cannes Festival (May 13-24), the L.A. Screenings in early June, the Montreal market (August 28-Sept. 6), the Tokyo market (Sept. 24-Oct. 3), MIFED in Milan, and MIPCOM in Cannes, both in October. Certainly MIDEM (MIP & MICOM) executives see their markets as kingpins on the annual circuit, with attendance rising year-by-year.

In between, and increasingly offering a greater mixture between films and television, are the AFM in February, Berlin, Umbriafiction, Toronto, Venice, Prix Italia and several other, less significant (an specialized) ones.

What distribution executives are questioning is whether the business done at these markets realistically warrants the expenses in both time and money - involved.

There are, of course. some "hidden" elements, particularly when it comes to the bigger companies where immediate returns from any given festival are likely to be less important than they are to the small distributors who are finding business abroad increasingly tough (and increasingly dominated by the majors). One fact of life, admitted with a slight smile, is that the French Riviera, for one, is a pleasant place to visit and this holds true both for the American suppliers and for international buyers.
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Title Annotation:international television conferences
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:In search of a new TV format.
Next Article:Thirtysomething for MIP-TV.

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