Territory report: France

Toon trends shift from fantasy to homegrown

PARIS — French buyers and sellers of children’s programming continue their love affair with animation, especially for ages 4-10, but the content is undergoing subtle shifts.

In France, buyers seem to be looking more toward shows that depict the routine life of kids: their towns, schools, friends, etc., and less toward alien superheroes and combat fighters.

“The trend which is the strongest right now is for shows that are about everyday life,” says Dominique Poussier, head of children’s programming at leading Gallic web TF1.

Citing the net’s own program, the highly successful “Hey Arnold,” Poussier notes that the reality trend in children’s programming has been building in France for about two years.

Action is beginning to morph from laser fighting to resolving neighborhood conflicts. and shows about urban conflict, such as “Wheel Squad,” are on the rise. The popular animated series focuses on a group of multiracial kids who use their talents on bikes and skateboards to solve the everyday problems and those that arise in their neighborhood.

“Wheel Squad”, an international co-production, captured 40% of viewers ages 6-14 in its timeslot, according to co-producer Giovanna Milano, chairman and CEO of France Animation.

Even superheroes are being humanized, according to Pierre Belaisch, head of programming at Canal J, Canal Plus’ children’s channel. “We look for modern stories that have a psychological element that children can identify with,” says Belaisch. “New action adventure heroes are no longer muscular, somber loners. Now they are clumsy or goofy, still strong but with an element of humor and slapstick.”

Humor and humanity seem to be accenting traditional children’s programming in France, influencing what buyers are looking for at Mipcom Junior.

“We’re looking for action adventures, new concepts both in design and technology, but we have a strong preference for humor,” Poussier adds.

Outside the animated sector, live-action skeins are also leaning toward the ordinary, generally focusing on a band of friends. But in France, the majority of these programs come from outside the Gallic territory. While most government-supported webs like TF1 or M6 show only animation, Canal J, whose target aud is 4-14, will be looking for live action at the market this year.

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