Busy Discop comes of age

Organisers, buyers upbeat as market wraps

BUDAPEST — After 15 installments, Eastern Europe’s most popular programming market may finally be ready for primetime.

Discop 2007, which wrapped on Friday after three days of frantic buying, selling, and schmoozing in the Hungarian capital, experienced a level of activity and professionalism that event general manager Patrick Jucaud says has surprised both organizers and its 1,532 participants (548 sellers and 932 buyers.)

“Buyers were very serious,” said Jucaud. “They kept meetings, and were focused. They know what they want. They put their money where their mouth is. For the first time, our clients looked at [eastern Europe] as a strategic market place.”

It wasn’t always this way. Founded by Jucaud, Discop was launched immediately after the fall of the Communist East Bloc as a sales venue for the region’s struggling emerging media. For some hard-scrabble buyers from farflung corners of the former Soviet empire, Discop was a showroom to acquire low-cost programming and a low-stress environment for buyers to network, communicate with heavy-hitting sellers, and learn the game.

Each Discop since the early 1990s grew in professionalism. But the buzz from the floor labeled the 2007 Discop the first market comparable to global heavyweights like NATPE, which purchased Discop three years ago and has presided over the last two events.

Changes after the 2006 post-mortem, such as hosting the market from Wednesday to Friday (instead of Thursday to Saturday) and convincing host hotel Sofitel Budapest to open its fire stairwells to expedite traffic between the market’s five floors, brought dividends.

But Jucaud attributes Discop’s rapid maturity to increased competition between broadcasters “at the local level. There are more TV stations competing with each other and they need programming. So they’re buying as quickly as possible. This is a sign of a healthy industry.”

Discop organizers say the 2008 market will be held over six floors, and the next pre-market seminar on co-productions (Discopro) will be held over two days instead of one.

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