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Greeks still looking for more American programs

Acqusitions exex to buy mainly movies, hour dramas

ATHENS, Greece – Despite the launch of new digital channels in Greece, not much has changed for buyers at the terrestrial channels.

“We are going on about our business as usual,” says Mega Channel head of acquisitions Nassos Katakouzinos. “I think the introduction of digital satellite TV will start affecting us in a few years time, but not now.”

So far, 32,000 subscribers have shelled out the cash for digital.

“Considering our reduced marketing campaign due to the short notice we received from the state, we are very happy,” says Keith Foster, G.M. at Multichoice Hellas, which was granted the first license at the end of 1999 for its Nova service. He is counting on this year’s holiday season to increase sub numbers to around 50,000.

The second license, which was awarded some months ago to Interactive, has yet to start operations.

Terrestrial broadcasters will be making the trek to Cannes to acquire mainly movies and hour dramas, some selected sitcoms and kids programs. With current annual acquisitions budgets of around $8 million to $9 million each — down from $12 million some four years ago — nets Mega and Antenna still buy more than any other Greek stations.

“For us ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Baywatch’ did really well,” says Antenna sales and acquisitions manager Lindy Isherwood. “That’s what we will focus on and, of course, feature films.”

Mega, which has output deals with Columbia and Disney in their second year, has a leg up on its programming requirements.

“We go to Cannes to complete our foreign program schedule,” says Katakouzinos. Mega struck gold this year with hour dramas including “Early Edition” and “Dawson’s Creek.”

“‘The Nanny’ and ‘Just Shoot Me’ were impressive, and ‘Clueless’ didn’t do badly either,” he adds.

Alpha, Greece’s third-largest commercial broadcaster, recently signed two movie deals with Fox and Warners that will be the focus for this season, says sales and acquisitions manager Giannis Kopanelis.

“Our budget will be around $6 million and the viewers will see a big difference this year as far as major movies are concerned,” Kopanelis says.

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