Gallic TV fete greets buyers in rainy Cote

French producers to pitch products at Rendez-Vous

ST. TROPEZ, France — Over 150 television-program buyers from more than 40 countries descended on this normally sun-kissed Riviera resort Monday amid driving rains and flash floods.

In town for the annual Rendez-Vous screenings — a four-day French TV extravaganza organized by Television France Intl., which oversees Gallic TV exports — buyers who had come from as far away as Brazil and Japan seemed discouraged by the weather but were looking forward to seeing what Gaul has to offer worldwide television this year.

More than 30 French producers and distributors were expected to be on hand, starting Tuesday, to present their product to the diverse group of buyers in an informal market setting, with plenty of time set aside for dinners and gala events throughout the coming three days.

Speaking to Daily Variety, Olivier-Rene Veillon, TVFI’s general manager, reported Gallic TV exports for 1997 rose by 18% to 583 million francs ($99 million), continuing a trend that has seen marked increases over the past three years.

An exports dominate

Coming off a 13% jump from 1995 to 1996, animation exports dipped slightly for 1997 but continue to dominate the field with 33% of total sales. Fiction also dropped from 35% in 1996 to 32% in 1997.

However, according to Veillon, documentary and news programming compensated for the slips as their sales rose a combined 3%.

While sales to Western European countries decreased from 70% to 63% of the market, Veillon explains this is due to an increase in other regions. Notably, in Central Europe sales went up from 6% in 1996 to 9% in 1997, with Latin America now accounting for 7% of global sales up from 5% in 1996 and North America — a traditionally tricky market –jumping a percentage point to 8%.

Veillon calls this new spread “a good thing,” and adds, “We are now an exporter of worldwide dimension.”

Although the Rendez-Vous has traditionally been considered an opportunity to meet people with a view to sealing deals at Mipcom in October, at least one Canadian buyer expressed her desire to do business this week. Otherwise, she said, “What am I doing here?”

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