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Mart mounts flurry of deals

Platforms piling up at Mipcom

CANNES — Blustery weather on the Croisette complemented the bracing air in the Cannes convention hall Tuesday as content companies touted their wares or clinched deals for an ever-proliferating number of distribution platforms.

Among the newer territories making a splash on the second day of the Mipcom trade show are India — with which the Hollywood majors have ever-more-sizable dealings — and Brazil, whose telenovelas continue to sizzle from Prague to Pyongyang and are inspiring other producers to make their own.

France’s top station, TF1, and Germany’s Beta unveiled a barrage of new product. Latter is the rump of the old Kirch program library and now is in the hands of Teutonic indie producer (and former Kirch honcho) Jan Mojto.

Oz’s Southern Star hosted a dinner Monday night to tout its new dramas (and bid farewell to retiring topper Neil Balnaves); Granada TV hosted a pour the following afternoon. The BBC is pitching its latest Charles Dickens adaptation, “Bleak House,” while A&E is racking up deals across Eastern Europe for its history programming and its “Biography” skein.

Having already plastered the Croisette hotels with banners and billboards touting its kids programming, Disney continued to churn out press releases for a host of new deals with clients from Korea to India to Turkey.

The other majors also appeared to be in nonstop meetings, with Warners reps pointing to heavy interest in its young-skewing WB drama “Supernatural” and CBS Paramount close to a key deal in Europe for gabber “Oprah.”

CBS Corp. supremo Leslie Moonves was due to hit town late Tuesday to spend a day gladhanding top foreign program buyers. The lightning visit is a first for Moonves since joining the Eye family 10 years ago.

“Our foreign clients are, after all, increasingly important to our ability to get series made in the U.S.,” CBS Paramount Worldwide Distribution prexy Joel Berman pointed out.

It’s just that most of the time the majors don’t like to overstate the obvious: They, not the hundreds of indies pounding the pavement here, account for most of the money coming into U.S. coffers from foreign sales of movies and TV shows.

Thus, most of the Hollywood heavyweights seemed content to let Mouse House minions paper the Palais with press releases. (Only Universal and Sony have bothered to announce the odd renewal of a long-standing deal in one part of the world or another.)

Meanwhile, upstairs in an SRO hall in the cavernous Palais, a so-called superpanel of CEOs prognosticated Tuesday about what’s traditionally debated at trade shows like Mipcom: the future. This time, however, several of them argued the future is coming ever more quickly and confusing ever greater numbers of consumers.

“It’s changing faster now than ever because of digital,” Hit topper and former BBC director general Greg Dyke told the assembled.

“I dread the day my last kid leaves home — who will sort it all out?” he quipped, referring to the bewildering array of media-delivery devices swamping the market.

For traditional broadcasters to survive in this universe of newfangled hardware, Dyke suggested they would have to get more involved in the multichannel world (as both the Beeb and rival ITV are doing in the U.K.), and they would have to spend much more on marketing their content to break through the clutter.

One of the big unanswered questions — both at the panel and on the floor of the Palais — is what and how much people will watch on their mobile devices.

“Probably not ‘War and Peace,’ but probably a lot of sports clips,” Dyke opined.

Also unclear is how much they’ll pay to do so.

If Korea is any indication, however, it may be a reasonably healthy amount.

Korean Broadcasting System CEO Jung Yun-joo said youngsters in South Korea buy a new cell phone every year. His network has been Web streaming in real time since 1997 and will be shooting 25% of its programming in high definition by the end of next year.

“More platforms seem to be strengthening the power of our content, not diminishing it,” he said.

Digital video recorders, News Corp. tech guru and NDS chief exec Abe Peled added, are starting to reach critical mass: It’s not what’s on anymore but about what you want to watch at any given moment in any given place, he explained.

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