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Mipcom review: TV turns a blind eye to the financial crisis

07 October 2011

There was plenty of concern going into this year’s Mipcom that business would be poor, with programme sales and co-pro deals adversely affected by the parlous state of the global economy.

In the end, however, the market proved to be surprisingly good for the majority of TV buyers, sellers and producers in Cannes, despite daily headlines about a likely Greek default and crisis in the Eurozone running in the background.

The market seemed busy, and the unusually hot weather for October in the South of France helped add to the sense of positivity.

"The TV world currently seems to be either oblivious or turning a blind eye to the Greeks, which is good news. We haven’t noticed a particular level of caution at this market at all. The stand and boat have been heaving, and attendance has been high," said Jane Millichip, md of Zodiak Rights.

In fact, there was something of a Blitz spirit about the market, with buyers and sellers determined to carry on as usual despite the economy.

FremantleMedia chief executive Tony Cohen said: "The economic climate is threatening. But we have been through this once before in recent times, so I guess everyone knows what to do and what is likely to happen. We are now a bit better organised and prepared perhaps. Everybody needs programmes - and we have got them."

The majority of business at Mipcom is for finished programmes, but format sales seemed notably brisk and stretched beyond the traditional sale of formats to big territories such as the US. Zodiak, for example, sold the Wife Swap format to South Korea and struck a couple format deals in Turkey.

Banijay International md Karoline Spodsberg added: "There's been a buoyancy about Mipcom 2011 which has been lacking in the previous two markets. We've noticed a more up beat outlook from broadcasters who are keen to find strong entertainment formats to reinvigorate their channel brands."

It's a point echoed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment md Maria Kyriacou: "Our focus on dramas which showcase fantastic acting and writing talent and formats which are relevant to global audiences set us up well for a good Mipcom. We've had an extremely positive market, great story telling will always sell and this week has been no exception.”

As always, it felt like there was a real mix of business being done at Mipcom, with the US studios out in force in their vast beachside stands right through to individual producers hawking one off docs around the Palais.

Electric Sky md David Pounds comments: "Mipcom seemed to have fewer people attending, but those that did attend seemed to be decision makers and keen to do business. There was little reflection of the global economic gloom and business was very much as usual if not buoyant. We agreed deals across a broad range of territories and platforms. Buyers seemed to be prepared to buy at premium rates even for shorter licence periods if they know the content will work. The understanding and sharing of what works and what doesn't is much more clearly defined."

Quite what happens now that the TV business has left the Mipcom bubble, few can say. But, notes Zodiak's Jane Millichip, there doesn’t seem to be too much caution around. "In fact, there was none at this market. But I think that businesses feel that there is nothing they can do about it other than plough on right now."

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