French TV exports hold steady

Sales to North America fall 27%

BIARRITZ, France — Gallic TV exports held last year, thanks in part to sales to Europe, and a hike in documentary sales, according to figures revealed Thursday at the 14th TV France Intl. Rendez-Vous in Biarritz.

But North American sales plunged 27.3% to just Euros 10.3 million ($15.1 million), whammied by plunging figures for Canada and a weaker dollar, some 10% down on its 2006 Euro value.

Presenting the figures in Biarritz, Mathieu Bejot, CEO of TV France Intl., the association of Gallic program exporters, fired off a warning that this year could see a downturn in exports.

“The context is probably somewhat different in 2008 with recession looming. Prices paid by TV operators — broadcast, satellite and VOD — are already going down, so sellers have to punch significantly more sales to push up revenues,” Bejot said.

Total sales on Gallic TV fare rose 3.3% in 2007 to $174.6 million, according to a CNC/TVFI report, “French Television Program Exports in 2007.”

Documentaries were 5.9% up to $44.4 million, fiction remained more or less stable, edging down 0.5% to $32.3 million, while animation, still France’s stellar export, dropped for the second year running, decreasing 2% to $61.3 million.

With sales reaching $114.2 million, Europe repped 75.4% of sales. Italy was France’s main export partner last year with sales up 32% to $26.3 million, followed by German-speaking territories (up 1.3% to $24.7 million) and Spain (up 8% to $14.5 million, thanks to startup webs Cuatro and La Sexta, Bejot said).

Animation sales rose 12.1% in Western Europe, benefiting from new-found competition in the German-speaking market between Nickelodeon, KIKA and Super RTL, the report said.

Tumbling North American sales also reflected “a broader slowdown in the American market following the strategic reorganization of the Cartoon Network and Disney Channel,” the study observed.

Pre-sales of French TV fare, which are not included under sales in the report, were down 19.3% to $49.8 million. But foreign investment in French co-productions rose 4.1% to $93.8 million.

All told, sales, pre-sales and foreign French co-production coin reached $318.1 million in 2007, 0.9% down on 2006.

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