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Surprise as Prix pacts with NATPE

Partnership to infuse commerce into elitist event

LONDON — In one of the more unusual international TV tie-ups in recent times, Europe’s oldest broadcasting festival is getting into bed with the industry’s biggest program market.

The Prix Italia and NATPE are joining forces in a move certain to introduce full-blooded commerce into what has traditionally been an elitist, cultural event.

The partnership will kick off at Prix Italia, almost certain to be in Bologna, in September with seminars and workshops bringing together American and European programmers.

NATPE intends to secure high-level U.S. TV execs while the Prix will invite the heads of major Euro broadcasters and producers to engage in what is being described as “active exchange and debate.”

Prix Italia secretary general Carlo Sartori says: “Festivals cannot survive unless they become part of the real business of development, co-production and distribution.”

Calling it a perfect partnership, NATPE president Bruce Boris Johansen adds: “We are not coming in like an American giant saying ‘Let’s make this festival into a market’.”

But Sartori suggests that if the collaboration blossoms, the Prix Italia could find itself accommodating a market in quality programs reflecting the genres that the festival traditionally celebrates.

One question, however, is how any Prix Italia market hopes to thrive in what is already a crowded Euro market calendar.

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