Teuton forum shrinks

Hard times squelch radio, digital confabs

COLOGNE — Germany’s annual media confab Medienforum NRW is scaling back to reflect tough times in the industry.

This year’s event, to be held in Cologne from June 20-25, will focus on traditional media, dropping the digital conferences and commercial radio sections as well as party events for the public.

Organizers are emphasizing caution in a slow market.

“The 15th Medienforum NRW aims more at intelligent and pragmatic concepts for the future, rather than embracing visions,” said Miriam Meckel, North-Rhine Westphalia’s state secretary for international and media affairs.

As low-cost entertainment formats are the most productive genre, confab’s TV section, the Cologne Conference & Screenings, has invited the entertainment toppers of several broadcasters and production companies to discuss the merits of “Light Entertainment in Hard Times.”

Screenings of foreign TV productions not yet licensed in Germany will highlight docu-style fiction, including HBO’s “The Wire,” NBC’s “Boomtown” and the BBC’s “The Office.”

“More than in previous years, submissions show a trend to realistic and social themes,” said Cologne Conference topper Martina Richter.

Event’s Intl. Film Congress, traditionally a forum for international co-production, concentrates on financing.

Michael Schmid-Ospach, head of funding body Filmstiftung NRW, said bank execs will join producers at panels to discuss financing options.

Medienforum NRW is set up by the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia along with state media regulator LfM; organizing partners of the Cologne Conference include all German commercial and public TV broadcasters.