Format for success

Reality programs still hot at Eastern Euro mart

BUDAPEST — Formats and regional distributors were the focus of Discop 2003, the premier programming market for Eastern Europe’s emerging TV territories, held June 26-28 in the Hungarian capital.

Market organizers report that the 500-plus buyers and sellers came to the event with gameshows, reality formats, novelas and current affairs on their minds.

“Format programming is really hot this year,” says Discop’s Coco Coppola. “With formats there is nothing but good ratings, and it gives buyers programming they can afford to make locally.”

Participants echoed the format mantra even before the market opened. “Top-end drama is always a commodity,” says Cecilia Hazai, president of Budapest-based Twin Media, on the eve of the market. “But formats are what people are out hunting for.”

Formats have become so popular that Discop scheduled a TV Formats seminar for June 27; visiting format distribs gave presentations on the best way to use this programming. Presenters included Absolutely Independent (Netherlands), Promo Film (Argentina) and JH2 (U.K.).

Other trade exhibitions included New Tech TV, highlighting digital and interactive hardware, and the Campus Conference, exploring media business trends.

Organizers said 2003 was the first Discop at which regional distribs came to the market to reach buyers from their own territories. Where traditionally distribs from the U.S., Western Europe and the U.K. used Discop as a conduit to buyers, the 2003 showcase saw the arrival of powerhouse Russian distribs such as A Media Group (part of the RTR network), DDM and Disa Press.

Varga Studio, Hungary’s premier animation studio, also registered for the first time, offering animation services to international buyers and sellers. Varga emphasized its interest by hosting the opening-night gala.

Discop 2003 also may be remembered for building bridges to India. Several Indian companies, including Ficci, a national media monitoring body, attended, and Coppola says Discop will send reps to Ficci’s Frames TV confab next year.

According to Coppola, sealing relationships with the large Indian market cannot be emphasized enough.

“India is a huge and developed market,” Coppola says. “They’re big in TV and film, but still I see them as an emerging market because they haven’t been working with the rest of the world. They’ve been very independent.

“Coming to Discop is a big step in opening this market internationally.”