Mip travels new roads

Organizers to focus discussion on new-media platforms

The 43rd annual Mip confab on the French Riviera opens today on a high note. TV program sales are booming around the world, reality formats are subdividing virally and new platforms and gizmos are opening up potentially lucrative avenues for content.

The five-day trade show in the Cannes Palais will be about all of these, but the organizers are focusing discussion on this last phenom — new-media platforms.

Beginning this morning, TV execs can partake of a workshop on “strategies for digital media” or attend a keynote address by Microsoft Windows Media general manager Erik Huggers.

Later in the afternoon, FremantleMedia chief creative officer Gary Carter, whose job is to come up with program tactics for these emerging platforms, will speak on the topic “Whose TV Is It Anyway?”

“Every broadcaster and every producer is thinking about how to maneuver in the new-media space,” Warner Bros. Intl. TV prexy Jeffrey Schlesinger told Daily Variety. “And there are a lot of decisions to be made.”

Among them are figuring out when content licensed abroad to traditional broadcasters should become available to new platforms, at what cost, with what revenue split, for how long and with or without commercials.

The headiness of Cannes has, in other words, taken on a whole new meaning as all this new technology takes hold.

Not that there isn’t time for fun and festivity on the Croisette, including opportunities to mingle with a heady potpourri of talent flown in for the event.

British distrib NBD, for example, will unleash a gaggle of sumo wrestlers on the beach to tubthumb “The World Sumo Challenge Tour,” while the European Space Agency will field astronaut Andre Kuipers to promote a space docu with the EuroNews channel.

Among the Americans, Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr.’s Hallmark Entertainment will be celebrating its buyback of the company from Crown Media and the unveiling of several miniseries projects.

Action docu specialist GRB will fete the first anni of its worldwide sales division under Gavin Reardon.

The New York-based Intl. TV Academy will host a party to talk up its jaunt to Beijing later this year to encourage China’s involvement in the global TV biz.

And the National Geographic Channel will ink a co-production partnership with the Korean Broadcasting Institute.

Mip’s opening cocktail party Monday night will be sponsored by Abu Dhabi TV, a signal of that region’s growing appetite for inclusion in and its growing importance to the global TV biz.

ID Distribution has signed a series of agreements to distribute Rainbow Media’s Mag Rack content throughout Europe. Deals include more than 150 segments from the company’s video-on-demand TV network, which have been licensed to broadcasters in Scandinavia, Hungary and Greece.

Meanwhile, the Reed Midem Organization, which puts on Mip, will try to steer the confab toward a discussion of the digital future.

“Our goal is to be the research and development center for the international TV biz,” said Reed Midem TV topper Paul Johnson, explaining why the emphasis at the five-day trade show (April 4-8) is on “preparing the biz for the near-future.”

To that end, Johnson and his team are introducing several initiatives. Among them is Content 3.60, a series of sessions in which producers have a chance to pitch original projects for digital platforms. Some $100,000 will be dispensed to the winners of the seven competitive rounds.

In conjunction with the Intl. TV Academy, Mip is hosting its inaugural awards show honoring interactive programming, with a number of international celebs onboard to hand out the trophies.

MipDoc, the two-day screenings program that immediately precedes Mip TV proper, is honoring four trailblazers in the nonfiction category, from not only the U.S. but Bulgaria, Vietnam and South Africa.

Johnson said that attendance at MipDoc will balloon this go-round by 25%. Part of the reason: “They’re the only ones digging deep these days into subject matter, while traditional TV news is becoming nothing more than soundbites.”

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