French Screenings focusing on sales

TVFI reports '98 revs at $300 mil

ST. TROPEZ, France — Television buyers from more than 45 countries arrived Monday night for the annual French TV Screenings. The four-day confab — organized by Television France Intl. (TVFI), the body responsible for overseeing Gallic TV exports — is celebrating its fourth run, and this year will play host to 160 acquisitions execs.

Virtually all of France’s major TV companies will be on hand to proffer more than 500 hours of programming.

One highlight of the screening extravaganza, also known as Le Rendez-Vous ’99, is TVFI’s announcement of France’s export sales figures for the previous year. For 1998, sales, co-productions and presales amounted to 1.8 billion francs ($300 million) for a 35% jump over 1997’s $217 million.

Olivier-Rene Veillon, president of TVFI, told Daily Variety that while increases were made across all genres and territories, animation is the big winner, accounting for 40% of total sales, with docus at 20% and fiction around 30%.

Germany remains France’s biggest buyer and co-producing partner in Europe, with Canada and the U.S. also playing an important role for the rest of the world. Areas of strong growth include Latin America, South Africa and Central Europe, where increased outlets mean greater need for product.

Although the event is strictly devoted to French programming, it is sometimes criticized for contributing to market glut as it falls just before October’s international TV confab, Mipcom, in nearby Cannes. In previous years, participants had complained that not enough business was done, and the expense of traveling twice to the Riviera in such a short period of time was too much.

Still, $6.7 million worth of deals were done last year, with expectations high for Rendez-Vous ’99. While previous installments have had special themes, TVFI’s Veillon said, “This year, we are doing everything solely for sales.”