Teuton TV spotlight draws crowd

Rise in local prod'n fuels need for more financing

CANNES — Gathered Sunday night on the eve of the annual Mip TV programming mart, Germany’s four broadcasting heavyweights — Kirch and RTL on the commercial side and pubcasters ARD and ZDF — took the floor for the Spotlight on German Television. Such country spotlights now are a regular part of Mip confabs.

“The German TV Industry: The Key for Success” drew a packed house of Mip participants. Conference was kicked off by veteran media journo Ingrid Scheithauer, who set the scene with some key facts about the German landscape.

Last year, the only new U.S. fare shown in primetime by the four major broadcasters was feature films. Only 35% of programming was U.S.-produced, vs. 47% five years ago.

According to Gerhard Zeiler, managing director of leading German web RTL, it’s only in feature films and animation where the majority of programming still is supplied by the U.S. Otherwise, it’s mostly local production.

Talking about the rise in local productions, Gunther Struve, programming director for ARD, said the station produced only 15 German films/telepics three years ago, compared to 42 today.

Key changes facing the German TV biz include the sale of the gigantic German cable systems to foreign players, such as John Malone’s Liberty Media, and the convergence of the Internet and television.

According to Jan Mojto, managing director for Kirch Media, companies need to address the task of financing the massive amount of programming Germany produces. For primetime last year, there were 2,000 hours of local series and TV movies made for some DM2 billion ($893 million).

“We are the highest-achieving sector in Europe. We produce three times as much as France and have twice as many production companies. We have a high-achieving industry and are good example for Europe,” Mojto said.

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