Weatherseed: Confident new media is part of TV industry

PARIS — While traditional TV players at Mip tend to be the same familiar faces year in, year out, don’t expect to run into all those Internet and new-media contacts you made in Cannes last year. Quite a few of them won’t be there.

More than a dozen companies that had stands at Mipcom last October won’t be exhibiting this time round, including the defunct Icebox.com, as well as Wild Brain and Intertrust Technologies, as the new-media slump continues to take its toll on fledgling businesses.

Says Michael Weatherseed, head of Reed Midem’s TV division: “Some people are not coming because their company’s share value has dropped so much, they are out there trying to get refinancing. There is also a lot of turnover as people find out whether their business is a business or not.”

But it’s still going to be a busy Mip, Weatherseed promises, with demand for booths up over last year. Midem is adding an extra 2,400 square feet of exhibition space at the Azur Village.

Although major Hollywood player Warner Bros. Intl. won’t be there — “they are cutting costs to put their share price up ahead of the merger,” says Weatherseed — other players will have a strong presence.

And, Internet gloom notwithstanding, some notable new-media companies will be in attendance — like the newly created AtomShockwave and New York-based Hypnotic, the Netco film studio partnered with Universal.

Holding the line

Weatherseed reckons that companies with new-media activities as part of their business will account for around 14% of those participating this year — just like last year.

“We are confident that new media is a big part of the TV industry,” says Reed’s TV topper, pointing out that the new-media-oriented MipNet conferences, now a regular fixture on the market calendar, will open on Monday, April 2, with an introductory keynote from RTL Group chief Didier Bellens.

Another panel worth checking out will be “Talent in the 21st Century,” on Wednesday, April 4, organized by the Intl. Assn. of Entertainment Lawyers.

Traditional TV biz seems to revolve increasingly around formats, and this year’s Mip will be no exception.

Weatherseed reports that format fever is making its mark on the mart with the presence of established companies like King World, Endemol and Celador, bolstered by newer outfits such as Sweden’s Strix, the U.K.’s Iskra and Holland’s Absolutely Independent.

“A lot of buyers come and just wander around the Palais hoping to come across a little jewel,” Weatherseed observes.

The exec evokes several unknowns that could affect business. “Are buyers going to acquire lots of programs just in case the (Hollywood actors and writers) strikes hit? Will the American economy have an impact? Perhaps not if producers and distributors have their financial risk spread wider — we’ll find out during the market.”

The two-day Mipdoc documentary mart the weekend before the main event will give early arrivals in Cannes a foretaste of what the week could hold in store.

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