Development of new technology is poised to be a significant factor at the American Film Market, according to market organizers.

Jean Prewitt, president of the Independent Film and Television Alliance, described new media as a “concern” and said that it is unclear whether it will “amplify or substitute for traditional methods of distribution.”

Pace of change and growing levels of interest meant that IFTA has had to replace the new media guidance that it last issued to member companies as recently as Cannes. Prewitt also said IFTA had actively courted specialist new media distribbers to sign up for AFM participation. On the first day of the market it was unclear how many would do so.

Specific issues to have emerged recently include the difference between Internet delivery, which is an open system, and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), which is closed circuit — allowing operators to run virtual pay-TV companies. Other areas of concern include the issue of catch-up rights that allow broadcasters to run shows on their websites shortly after its first conventional broadcast. She said U.S. nets such as ABC sought seven-day rights, while Blighty’s Channel 4 wants a 30-day window. Additional compensation has not been offered by broadcasters who see catch-up rights as safeguarding the existing rights they have acquired.

Prewitt said IFTA recommends that all new media licenses should be negotiated separately so that both sides establish value. She conceded that new media is “providing virtually no (financial) value at this stage.” Newly elected IFTA chairperson Lloyd Kaufman said he would like to see buyers of new media rights paying minimum guarantees for them.

Market boss Jonathan Wolf said the 2007 frame of AFM continues the trend of increasing diversity. “There are increasing number of productions from non-English-language countries,” Wolf said. He pointed to Asian companies as particular source of growth, from a dozen exhibitors 10 years ago to nearly 60 this market.

Overall, AFM 2007 is set to involve 430 production or distribution companies from 30 countries as exhibitors. Total attendance is on course for a record 8,200 participants. On the movie front, the week will see 900 screenings of 537 films, including 104 industry world premieres.