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TV shows jump 35% in 2001-02

U.K. up 94% on previous season

ST. TROPEZ — Despite the media recession and fallout from last Sept. 11’s terrorist attacks, 35% more TV programs debuted between September 2001 and May 2002 in Western Europe, the U.S. and Australia.

Mediametrie, the Gallic TV monitoring organization, said 1,117 programs bowed in the period. It reported that figure in a presentation at the close of the French Screenings, which wrapped Thursday after four days marked by vigorous sales of diverse French productions and co-products that are increasingly geared for the international marketplace.

If the screenings are a barometer of the marketplace, October’s Mipcom should be a busy event.

Last season, the largest number of new titles was launched in the U.K., with 232 shows premiering on its terrestrial channels, up 94% on the previous season’s 119 new programs.

The U.S. mustered a marginal 6% growth with 67 new shows against 63 in 2000-01.

The Netherlands and France kicked off 190 and 185 new titles and registered a 59% and 73% increase, respectively.

Germany, which debuted 150 new shows, registered a 22% increase. Italy introduced 145 new shows, with output down 13%.

Australia launched 3.5% fewer shows in 2001-02 than during the previous season with 82 new titles.

Spain bettered its new program output by 66% with 66 new titles.

Local fiction dominated

Fiction was the dominant genre across the board and accounted for 40% of all new programs. The increase in local fiction production explains why the genre was the least popular seller at this weeks French screenings.

Gameshows, reality soaps and reality shows still represent a key category, comprising 13% of new titles.

Germany is still cranking out gameshows, Spain is still partial to telenovelas, the U.K. launched the largest number of new factual programs, and in the U.S. fiction accounted for 76.1% of all new programs.

Fiction offerings were big on heroes and antiheroes as well as ordinary people rising above extraordinary circumstances. Though it was a difficult season for sitcoms, family sitcoms continued to fare well, as did reality sitcoms such as the phenomenally performing “The Osbournes.”

Perverse gamers

New gameshows in all regions are pushing the envelope and finding perverse ways to evoke strong emotional response from viewers, often in primetime slots. Psychological quizshows, in which contestants not only have to answer questions but are also subjected to a variety of psychological and physical pressures, are circulating from country to country.

Hidden-camera shows are back in Western Europe. and feel-good shows such as Fox’s “That ’80s Show” are big everywhere.

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