×

Teutonic war at Euro gabfest

Commercial players demand ARD, ZDF give up ads

BERLIN — Germany’s sprawling Medienforum NRW, one of Europe’s top media talking shops examining trends in TV, film, print and technology, became a battlefield for hard-up commercial webs to attack Germany’s well-to-do pubcasters.

With the advertising slump continuing, commercial players demanded that pubcasters ARD and ZDF give up their limited advertising as they are also funded by viewers fees.

Georg Kofler, head of pay TV broadcaster Premiere, described the pubcasters as socialist relics that are the real pay TV channels of the industry and press for their viewer fees to be axed.

ARD and ZDF got more respect on the other side of town at another Medienforum event, the Intl. Film Conference, where producers praised the pubcasters for their support in the face of dwindling coin from commercial webs.

The advertising slump that has bedeviled the industry had a visible impact on the event, keeping some industryites at home as business trips fall victim to cost cutting.

“The attendance appeared lower than last year,” noted broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1’s Torsten Rossmann. “The confab is in a phase of consolidation, after all.”

Even event organizers noted the shrinkage: with the adage that “less is more,” they announced the concentration of events and topics would continue next year.

There were 3,800 participants at the June 22 – 25 event in Cologne. For some, like Bavaria Media’s Boris Ausserer, the confab is still an effective venue for face-to-face discussions: “I had lots of meetings but didn’t catch any of the panels or screenings.”

However, the Cologne Conference & Screenings, the intl. TV and film festival that comes under the Medienforum’s umbrella, reported a strong year.

The June 20 – 25 event saw an estimated 25% increase in its participants. Organizers counted 4,500 viewers, both trade people and regular folk, at the theatrical screenings of its top ten TV fiction and non-fiction programs, including this year’s award winners “White Teeth” by Julian Jarrold and Steven Silver’s docu “The Last Man,” about the Rwandan genocide.

In addition, 2,300 trade visitors went to the confab’s soirees and panels on the Rhine riverboat and in the Cologne fairgrounds’ Rhine Terrace.

Entertainment formats remained a hot topic at the Cologne Conference. Ute Biernat, head of RTL’s Grundy Light Entertainment, predicted increasing demand for “Pop Idol”-style fare as well as shorter and more flexible formats. But she declared, “eating worms in the outback is totally out. Nobody needs extra pain and repulsion these days.”

At the Medienforum, a lively discussion led by the New Yorker’s Seymour M. Hersh on press freedom Stateside during and after the U.S. invasions of Iraq drew considerable interest.

“I have the impression the spark has been reignited,” says Miriam Meckel, North Rhine-Westphalia’s state secretary for media. “The big media players have regained the energy to fight for new concepts to revive the industry.”

(Christian Kohl in Cologne contributed to this report)

More TV

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Mr. Peanut to Appear in His

    Mr. Peanut to Appear in His First Super Bowl Commercial

    The monocle-wearing Mr. Peanut is about to offer snack fans an entirely new lens on Super Bowl advertising. Planters, which has featured the anthropomorphic legume for more than a century as its spokes-character, will place him in a 30-second ad slated to appear in the second quarter of CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl LIII on [...]

  • DRG Boards Sales on Scandi Sci-Fi

    DRG Boards Sales on Scandi Sci-Fi Mystery Series ‘The White Wall’

    Scandinavian sci-fi series “The White Wall” is coming to the international market, starting at NATPE, after DRG picked up international rights to the upcoming project. Finland’s Fire Monkey and Nice Drama, part of the Nordic Entertainment Group, are making “The White Wall” for Swedish pubcaster SVT and its Finnish counterpart, YLE. It will feature a [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

  • R. KellyR. Kelly in concert at

    'Surviving R. Kelly' Producers on the Lifetime Doc's Ripple Effect

    The ripple effect of “Surviving R. Kelly” continues to widen more than a week after the documentary aired on Lifetime, renewing public interest — and outrage — over the litany of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B artist. Lady Gaga and Phoenix have apologized for working with him. Chance the Rapper and other artists are said to [...]

  • Yellowstone

    Viacom Lays Off Paramount Network Staffers Amid Reorganization (EXCLUSIVE)

    Viacom has laid off a number of staffers in its entertainment group, with the majority of the affected employees hailing from Paramount Network, Variety has learned exclusively. A Viacom spokesperson declined to comment. But a source with knowledge of the situation that the number of affected employees was fewer than 20, or less than 2% of [...]

  • The Last OG

    TV News Roundup: 'Last O.G.' Sets Season 2 Premiere Date on TBS

    In today’s TV News Roundup, “The Last O.G.” announces its Season 2 return date and Variety has the exclusive first look at Fox’s new legal drama “Proven Innocent.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has announced its new limited series “Black Earth Rising” will launch on Jan. 25. The contemporary thriller series stars Michaela Coel as Kate Ashby, a Rwandan girl [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content