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Mipcom opens to flurry of int’l deals

TV mart gets underway in Hollywood

The 23rd Mipcom TV mart swung into action Monday with Hollywood dominating first-day proceedings.

Selected as Mipcom personality of the year, CBS Corp. prexy-CEO Leslie Moonves delivered a straight-down the-line booster speech, declaring that he’d never seen Mipcom looking healthier in his 20 years of attendance.

Broadcasters have the compelling mass-audience product for traditional and digital distribution, he said. “Wireless is useless if hitless,” he said, noting that the “CSI” franchise alone has minted more than $2 billion for CBS.

Driven by solid TV ad revenues abroad, emerging markets and revenue streams and the increasing popularity of U.S. dramas, the mood of Mipcom marketers was buoyant.

The day’s deals seem to have borne out that optimistic tone.

  • Showtime’s “Californication” has been licensed to France’s M6 and Blighty’s Channel 5.

  • Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert is going global with “The Colbert Report Global Edition.” MTV Networks Intl. is rolling out 40 half-hour episodes of a customized version, with segments featuring Colbert riffing on international themes. It will be distributed alongside the original series, which has been picked up by CTV in Canada and Foxtel in Australia.

  • Disney-ABC sold the ABC Studios teen sci-fi series “Kyle XY” to the U.K. and closed its first digital deal in Russia, licensing a selection of movies to video-on-demand service Sistema. n Kamera, an Internet and mobile TV packager, has inked to market ABC News to mobile operators outside North America.

  • NBC Universal Intl. Television has inked a multiyear VOD rights deal with Germany’s ProSiebenSat1 on titles including “The Bourne Identity,” “Apollo 13,” “Gladiator,” “Spartacus” and “Hulk.”

  • Fox has acquired a major stake in BabyTV, a dedicated channel for tykes under 3.

  • The Sundance Channel has picked up the first two seasons of British skein “Pulling” from FremantleMedia and docuseries “On the Road in America” from New Line Television.

  • France’s Canal Plus Family has greenlit a third season of “Oggy and the Cockroaches” from Spain’s Xilam.

  • FremantleMedia, producer of “American Idol,” picked up cookery series “Essence of Emeril” and signed on to sell annual kudofests “The Brit Awards” and “The Classical Brit Awards.”

Overall, the proliferation of new channels and outlets is boosting international TV biz.

“As the number and type of channels increase around the world, often targeting specialized audiences, you need to offer a wide spread of programming,” said Rob Clark, senior VP, entertainment and production, Worldwide Entertainment FremantleMedia.

New Spanish broadcaster Cuatro, for instance, has been snapping up programs and Monday it inked for two-hour action titles from RHI. Cuatro has signed on for 25, Blighty satcaster BSkyB picked up 50 for pay TV and free TV, France’s M6 has taken 50, Russia’s RHI 30, Germany’s and Tele Munchen 40.

Cuatro also inked a multititle deal for most of the miniseries, movies and long-running series from Munich-based Tandem Communications, including upcoming sci-fi mini “Impact,” the four-title Fantasy Adventure Collection and sci-fi skein “Painkiller Jane.”

Fremantle’s biggest Mipcom push is for one-off drama “Fanny Hill,” adapted from the classic British novel, by screenwriter Andrew Davies (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”) and produced by Sally Head (“Cracker”).

Meanwhile, unlike past Mipcom panels, Monday’s sessions emphasized a back-to-basics message.

“At the center of it all is content, flowing from one medium to another, reaching new audiences all the time, moving between platforms easily, being used by people in ways that make sense to them,” Moonves said.

“When we originally looked at new media and new TV services, people were talking about VOD as the only thing that would work, but the first things that worked were normal TV channels,” said Herve Payan, senior VP of content services at telco Orange, at the Future of TV panel.