French product is hot in Spain

Showcase sees rapid sales for all types of TV fare

MADRID — Skeins “Spiral” and “Suspects,” and global warming docu “Pole Airship” were standouts at this year’s Iberian Showcase, put together by French export org TV France Intl.. Event wrapped Friday in Madrid.

2001 Audiovisuel, which sold movie “Nom de Code.DP” and telepic “Fatal Island” to Antena 3 at last year’s showcase, is in talks with Antena 3 on Canal Plus France’s top cop show, the desaturated-toned “Spiral” — “CSI” meets film noir, but in French. Series has already aired to above-channel averages on the U.K.’s BBC 4.

Series drama “Suspects,” to screen on French broadcaster M6 this summer, was attracting strong interest from major channels for Marathon.

Spanish channels were reportedly circling the Gedeon-sold “Airship,” which has French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne measuring the North Pole ice sheet.

France has always sold animation and docus to Spain. Country accounted for 8% of French TV exports in Western Europe in 2005, as opposed to Germany’s 20% and Italy’s 22.9%. (U.K. and Ireland repped 13%.) But, as total French TV export figures dropped 6% to Euros 218.6 million ($287.1 million) in 2005, Spain could now bring an added bounce to exports.

New Spanish market trends and recent French hits have hiked Spanish demand, and increased opportunities for French fiction sales.

Produced and sold by France’s Calt, “Camera Cafe,” a series of satirical sketches set around an office coffee-machine, is hitting 23%-25% shares during primetime at Telecinco, Spain’s dominant broadcaster.

Led by Cuatro and La Sexta, Spanish broadcasters have almost swept the shelves bare of top-notch U.S. drama: They’re eying Europe for top up fiction.

Prices paid in Spain for French product isn’t high: Euros 3,500-Euros 14,000 ($5,000-$18,400) for docus on national broadcasters, $1,700-$13,100 per half-hour toon episode.

But some 1,000 digital terrestrial television webs and regional and local channels in Spain need economical, bulk programming.

And their advent has sparked the emergence in Spain of new Spain-based distrib companies. One — Lola Bono’s Alo, Alo — was repping Novavision Intl.’s candid camera clips and half-hours at the screenings.

Straight deals underscored the importance of volume deals with Spain’s emerging DTT market and established regional pubcasters:

* Sales co. 10 Francs sold national DTT operator Veo TV 104 episodes of long-running youth magazine “Magically Simple” and 20 hours of docu-specs to Libertad Digital TV.

* TV giant Mediatoon Intl. Distribution, which reps rights for Dargaud, Ellipseanime and Dupuis, closed toon series “Tintin” with TV3, ETB and Aragon Television and “Lucky Luke” to these three regional pubcasters and CMT.

* France Televisions Distribution has sold “Sapiens, Sapiens,” the third part of the “Homo Sapiens” docu-minis, to Ramon Colom’s Sagrera TV.

Other shows currying buzz included toon series “Lili’s Island,” about three children who wake up in a strange universe, sold by Tele Images, which closed “Lea Parker” with Cuatro last year; and the slightly saucy bio-mini “Madame de Pompadour,” about Louis XV’s mistress, from France Televisions Distribution.

“With DTT and new broadcasters Cuatro and La Sexta, things are changing in Spain. And traditional broadcasters are proving easier to meet,” said TFI exec director Mathieu Bejot.

Bejot announced that TV France Intl.’s annual macro French TV Screenings, Le Rendezvous, will take place Sept. 3-7 in Biarritz.

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