A security blanket

Minister opens mart on heightened alert

CANNES — French Culture Minister Catherine Tasca officially opened the Mipcom TV mart Monday, cutting the ribbon at one entrance to the Palais des Festivals while harried TV execs were frisked by security guards at another.

Following Sunday’s bombing of Afghanistan, the mart was on an even tighter security alert than planned, with hotels, too, further stepping up their safeguards.

Reed Midem topper Xavier Roy told Daily Variety that “extra measures” included additional plainclothes guards and bag checking at hotels like the Majestic.

Another Midem official pointed out that despite their concerns, Mipcom delegates were staying calm. “They know that Kabul isn’t at the end of the Croisette,” he said.

In previous Cannes marts, the culture minister has visited the stands of French broadcasters and distributors, but this year Tasca broke with tradition — a move organizers said was planned before the events of Sept. 11. Nor did she make her usual speech.

Instead, Tasca and an entourage of French broadcasting players that included France Television chief Marc Tessier, CNC topper David Kessler and former broadcasting authority chief Herve Bourges made a beeline for the Majestic Hotel.

There, lunch was preceded by a ceremony in which Tasca named Roy an officer of the Order of Merit in recognition of his contribution to broadcasting culture.

In an allusion to the possible impact of world instability on the global TV biz, Tasca told guests she hoped “the events of Sept. 11 will not interfere with the free circulation of ideas and works internationally.”

Afterward, Tasca gave a press briefing centered on France’s digital terrestrial TV plans. The government was sticking to its end-of-2002 timetable for the introduction of the new technology, Tasca said, despite continued skepticism over its economic viability from private broadcasters like TF1 and M6.

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