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Discop high on chopsocky

'More professional,' 'rewarding' event busy with sales

BUDAPEST — Asian expansion, a Quentin Tarantino-inspired rush on Chinese Kung Fu programming, and big sales by regional sellers marked the 2003 Discop, Eastern Europe’s premier TV market, which wrapped June 30 after three days of furious trading in the Hungarian capital.

According to market organizers, 288 buyers and 280 sellers from Eastern Europe and the West participated in this year’s market.

Long the enfant of the world’s TV programming markets, Discop, which sprouted in the former-East Bloc shortly after the implosion of the Soviet Union, has finally come of age, said Discop’s founder and organizer Patrick Jucaud.

It’s not simply that the 2003 Discop was “better” than the previous year’s installment, said Jucaud. “Discop is getting more and more professional, and more rewarding for sellers.”

First touted as a networking market where Western sellers could slowly build relationships with ambitious but cash-starved East Euro buyers, Jucaud said 2003 was the busiest Discop yet. “Some companies had 45 meetings in three days,” Jucaud said. “Ten years ago five meetings would have been a lot.”

Discop 2003 was also noteworthy due to the ascendancy of regional sellers from local eastern territories who used the market to reach their own buyers.

A-Media, owned by Russia’s RTR network, was one of a plethora of Russian distribs eager to sell to Russian buyers; and one of A-Media’s hottest commodities was a Russian-version of a James Bond-like action series featuring sex and espionage from a Slavic point of view.

Other notable Russian sellers included DDM and Disa Press.

Formats were hot at Discop 2003. According to Coco Coppola, Discop media representative, market buyers were hungry for reality, gameshow, and current-affairs format programs from the outset.

Romania’s Creative Visual Intl. inked to produce local-language versions of formats owned by Spain’s Europroducciones.

The 2003 market may also be remembered for bridges built to the emerging media markets of China and India, and organizers believe Quentin Tarantino may have been a catalyst for much of this business.

Distrib Basic Lead sold 30 Chinese martial arts historical titles thanks to the hype surrounding the Tarantino kung fu flick “Kill Bill,” scheduled to hit cinemas later in the year.

India, one of the world’s largest untapped media markets, also attended in preparation for the Frames programming market to be held on the Asian subcontinent and organized by Ficci, an Indian national media monitoring association, later this year. Western companies will participate in Frames as both buyers and sellers.

Discop organizers state that Discop’s development over the past decade could aid the Indian and Chinese media industries. According to Jucaud, the Chinese and Asian TV markets are at the stage eastern-central Europe was at when Discop was launched a decade ago.

Not only do analysts expect both territories to develop at the same rate, profits are expected to be higher. These are massive markets, said Jucaud.

“There are 82 million TV homes in India and 200 million households in China,” said Jucaud. “This is larger than the U.S. and Western Europe combined.”

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