Webs tune back in to scripted fare

World Brief

BERLIN — Scripted fare is making a comeback across Europe.

Firstrun domestic drama on terrestrial TV in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. was up 2.5% in 2004, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory’s Eurofiction report, published in the run-up to the Mipcom TV mart in Cannes, which began Oct. 17.

That’s in contrast to 2003’s sharp fall in fiction programming.

Eurofiction counted 5,513 hours of scripted content on TV in the five countries, an increase of 133 hours.

While it’s up in Germany, Italy and the U.K., fiction production in Spain and France continues to decrease.

In Germany, scripted content gained 50 hours, ending the decline seen the previous year, thanks to the popularity of domestically produced telenovelas.

“German telenovelas are destined to multiply, further boosting the fiction production of the strongest television industry in Europe,” the report predicts.

In the U.K. drama was up 100 hours, or 7%, mainly due to new digital channels BBC3 and BBC4.

Italy saw a boost of 13%, or 85 hours, in 2004.

In Spain, fiction has consistently dwindled since reaching its 2001 peak of more than 1,300 hours, falling to 932 hours in 2004. Most affected, according to the report, is content commissioned by Spanish pubcasters, which saw a drop of 155 hours last year.

France, meanwhile, is in last place for scripted fare, which again dropped in 2004.

Pubcasters remain the principal commissioners and providers of domestic drama, but commercial webs are gaining ground: Last year they accounted for 41% of fiction, up from 39% the year before — an increase of 158 hours.

Pubcasters, meanwhile, saw their 61% share drop to 59%, although pubcasters in Germany, Italy and the U.K. increased homegrown fiction.

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