With attendance down, TVFI aims to register 200

Unfolding in the Belle Epoque splendor of Biarritz, and showcasing the lion’s share of French TV shows a strategic month before Mipcom, TV France Intl.’s Rendez-Vous is an event few Euro buyers miss.

But buyers might be slightly down this year, says TVFI CEO Mathieu Bejot. “Some companies have larger travel limitations, and some execs right now just can’t justify being out of the office for a week,” he says.

But TVFI is still aiming to register 200 buyers. Broadcasters attending include Germany’s ARD and Super RTL, a strong Belgian and Mediaset turnout, Denmark’s TV2, Japan’s NHK, Russia’s Kultura TV, and even an Iranian net. Roughly two-thirds are from Europe, Bejot says.

Gallic exhibitor company numbers have held at 53, as have the Rendez-Vous attractions: a large critical mass of buyers and the opportunity to screen TV shows, not just talk about them. Adding to the allure, says Bejot, is “an informal context where buyers can mingle easily with sellers, sellers with other sellers and talk about business, politics, their kids, whatever they want.”

Pursuing the RV’s trademark mix of pleasure and business, acquisition execs at the Rendez-Vous are  afforded a window onto French culture. Some will be put up at Biarritz’s Hotel du Palais, once Napolean III’s summer digs; lunches take place at the exquisite Art Deco Biarritz Casino; and each night there’s a dinner, the last at the lakeside Chateau de Brindos.

Following tradition, TVFI’s Rendez-Vous will unveil 2008 French TV international sales figures. The big question is if — or by how much — foreign broadcast cutbacks will have eaten into export figures.

Whatever the numbers, dramatic programming is still showing long-term growth, Bejot says.

The 2009 Rendez-Vous will present the latest seasons from stalwart sellers “Spiral” and “Desperate Parents.” Among new dramas to be screened: Canal Plus’ long-awaited copshow “Braquo,”  Middle Ages-set “The Commanderie” and ratings smash “A French Village.”

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