Discop TV mart gets better with age

PM Ent. hot as Hungary exhib event sees sales soar

BUDAPEST — Six-year-old Discop, Eastern Europe’s answer to the MIP TV market, seems to be coming of age.

The three-day Discop ’98, which closed Sunday, attracted a record 200 sellers and 300 buyers to Hungary’s capitol. Once seen as a fringe exhibition in Europe’s low-rent territories, this year’s edition saw heated dealing with sales as high as five digits, crowded agendas, and an air of urgency and professionalism reminiscent of the more upscale markets.

“Discop gets better every year,” said Doug Gluck, CEO for Central and Eastern Europe for Pearson Television Prods. “The pre-market information was more precise (than in past years), and we were fully booked with appointments.”

Most veteran Discop sellers agree that East Euro buyers are becoming more affluent and professional. “At the first market (six years ago), we had to dig buyers out of their rooms,” admitted Michael Doury, VP of international sales for Hearst Entertainment.

A far cry from Discop’s early days when networks bought anything that was cheap, buyers from the region’s more mature territories like Poland, Hungary, and Russia came to the ’98 market with money and advanced programming needs.

What exactly did the East Euros buy? Action films, especially from PM Entertainment Group International, were hot in mature markets like Poland, and gameshows from distributors like King World International were sought by buyers from emerging markets like Bosnia and Albania. Discop also saw sales of women’s and children’s shows, and nature programming, underscoring a growth in niche TV channels in the region.

Other Discop deals included:

– Sales of $500,000 in action and family programming by L.A.-based PM Entertainment;

– Adult animation like the series “Bob & Margaret” (distributed by France’s Nelvana Enterprises Inc.) was sold to HBO Czech Republic and Canal + Poland;

– Children’s docus including “Little Dieter Needs to Fly” and “Journeys into Hell” were sold by Germany’s ZDF to Slovak TV; and

– 260 episodes of the U.S. soap opera “All My Children” were sold by the U.K.’s Fremantle Corp. to Russia’s RTR network.