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Mip bustling without fanfare

Midway through the six-day Mip TV Market on the French Riviera, the level of program sales seemed healthy enough, though surprisingly few of the approximately 400 exhibiting companies felt the urge to tout deals or trumpet new alliances.

The palais was overflowing with participants — the chilly, rainy weather not being conducive to long lunches outdoors — many of whom were purposefully scurrying to appointments rather than loitering in the corridors.

“It’s probably a good sign that business is back to a buoyant level when most sellers simply appear to be getting on with things rather than worrying about whether theyshould put out a press release,” said one British Mip veteran.

Others suggested the noticeable downturn in spending by Japanese and Italian TV buyers was partially responsible for the less-than-frenetic pace of dealmaking.

Among U.S. participants, the executive with the trickiest task at Mip is probably Paramount TV czar Kerry McCluggage. He was on hand to assess the activities and meet with the personnel of the separate components of the Viacom-Paramount international operations. He told Daily Variety he would have an overall plan for how the pieces of those operations would fit together by May 15, though details could take the rest of the year to sort out.

The U.S. cable programmers seemed to make the greatest effort to cut a figure on the Croisette. The Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, E! Entertainment TV, even Court TV all made an impact at the market, fielding a number of top execs and wining and dining clients and the press.

As a graphic symbol of just how much international TV has shifted from the strict buying and selling of programs to one of forming alliances around the world, the Intl. Council gathered six top players to outline their strategies up to the year 2000.

Panelists at the Sunday morning session — including Leonard Fertig, president of Central European Media Enterprises; Thames TV CEO Richard Dunn; and David Hill, managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. — pointed to Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America as areas of growth. They discussed the relaying of existing services to other parts of the world and transposing them into other media.

Fertig’s company is investing in newly privatized channels in Eastern Europe; Dunn’s company, owned now by Pearson Publishers, is looking to exploit synergies among TV software, book publishing and new media. Hill is trying to create new revenue streams for the Australian pubcaster by creating a spinoff channel for Asia and by getting involved in pay TV Down Under.

CLT’s managing director Michel Delloye said his company plans to launch thematic channels in several more European territories and to take advantage of the company’s multinational clout by buying programming rights on a Europeanwide basis.

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