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Monte Carlo TV mart dealt uncertain hand

The organizers of the 14th Monte Carlo TV Market, which opens for business at the Loews Hotel today and runs through Feb. 12, are hoping 1993 will be the year their luck changes.

With many international program buyers and sellers beginning to question whether the event can survive much longer as a major market, Monte Carlo desperately needs a week of booming sales and no glitches.

At a time when the weakness of the global economy is biting hard into the international program sales business, the Monte Carlo market, squeezed between the National Assn. of TV Program Executives in January and MIP in April, is starting to look dangerously like a dispensable luxury.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if buyers are picking up product this year, and whether they are more relaxed,” said market chief Andre Asseo. “Last year they were really looking at programs through a magnifying glass, and clearly had orders to be extremely careful.”

Salespeople traveling to the event are struggling to fill their appointment books, and a number of senior exex, such as RPTA’s Richard Price, the grand old man of the U.K. distribution scene, and Buena Vista’s overseas prexy Etienne de Villiers, are staying at home.

Nonetheless, the event still has its supporters. Philip Jones, head of Central Television Enterprises, calls it “crowded, good, cost-effective.”

American sellers could do well with a slew of new action-adventure series, such as Warners’ “Time Trax” and Paramount’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” European broadcasters have complained for the past few years about the shortage of such shows coming out of the U.S., so the Yank traders are likely to find a strong pent-up demand.

In a sign that U.S. producers are becoming more attuned to the potential and demands of the overseas market, Twentieth TV Intl. will use Monte Carlo to unveil a project specifically targeted at international audiences.

Like other Hollywood majors, Twentieth also sees Monte Carlo as the chance to launch its mid-season replacements overseas–in Twentieth’s case, a sitcom called “Dudley” starring Dudley Moore, which is actually a co-production with British producer Witzend.

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