Global village note sung at confab

At Medienforum NRW the word is media convergence

COLOGNE, Germany — Technological convergence and globalization were the key words dominating the 12th annual Medienforum NRW, which kicked off here on Sunday.

The state and industry-sponsored confab is comprised of a number of separate TV, film and new media forums and events, including the Cologne Conference, as well as the Cologne Screenings, a new programming market organized by former RTL honcho-turned-government-advisor Helmut Thoma. More than 6,000 guests are expected to show up during the four-day happening.

Vivendi CEO Eric Licoys ended up filling in for company boss Jean-Marie Messier, who skipped the show for business reasons, and gave the evening’s keynote address.

Strategy unfolded

Sounding more like he was hosting a shareholders’ meeting instead of a media convention, Licoys outlined the French giant’s strategy for the new millennium, saying communication would be one of the company’s mainstays.

The CEO added that global convergence of TV, publishing, Internet and mobile telephony was quickly becoming a reality, and Vivendi would become a world player in the field.

Also speaking to the audience of film and TV producers, distribs, Internet gurus and other assorted media people, North Rhine-Westphalia Minister President Wolfgang Clement gave an impassioned speech challenging the industry and German educational institutions to put NRW on the map once and for all as the number one region for new media in Europe.

New media heaven

“NRW has the potential to be best-equipped region for new media in all of Europe,” he said, adding that the state could easily rival Britain and the U.S. in the field.

On the other side of town, the International Co-Production Market Cologne got started with its focus on public and private financing opportunities for European co-productions in France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Dieter Kosslick, market organizer and head of the state film subsidy Filmstiftung NRW, said the strong showing was evidence that interest in European film was very much alive.

Around 150 companies from around the continent were on hand, spurred on by the stark realities facing moviemakers in a globalized economy and equally attracted by Germany’s growing reputation as a producer’s paradise.

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