Unite with States to sell foreign fare, panel says

NEW ORLEANS — Interested in selling into the U.S. market? Hold hands with Americans.

That was the message to foreign production companies at a NATPE panel Monday called “The U.S. Market: American Conspiracy or International Opportunity?”

Panelists repping five countries apparently had given up on American buyers, beyond PBS and the odd cable outlet, ever forking out for unadulterated European, Canadian or Australian product.

Foreigners must pair up with Americans, they agreed, but for every country there’s a different degree of self-sacrifice.

Roger Laughton of United Broadcasting & Entertainment said things are improving for the Brits, thanks to de-mand from cable, but often they must work with U.S. producers.

Todd Leavitt of Alliance Communications said the limited size of the Canuck market dictates that series be de-signed with the U.S. in mind.

As for non-English-speaking countries, it’s pretty much a case of “They don’t want you, they just want your money,” agreed both Canal Plus exec Catherine Lamour and RTL’s Erhart Puschnig.

Lamour found Yanks historically had little thirst for Gallic fare beyond “Frenchy, sexy” docus on pin-up girls and the history of the bikini.

As for the notion that there’s a conspiracy to keep out foreign product, Lamour came nearest to quantifying it with her tale of a multi-award-winning docu that was eventually picked up by the Discovery Channel. “But they put the beginning at the end and the end at the beginning and took out the middle before airing it,” she said.

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