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TV players look to local partnerships

Overseas relationships develop at Mipcom

The 23rd Mipcom trade fair has discovered a new mantra: local partnerships.

No longer just about sales, Mipcom has also become a platform for advancing overseas strategic relationships.

Several of the biggest players in international TV weighed in Tuesday with their views on the global marketplace and unveiled deals or negotiations on traditional and digital distribution.

In their keynote speeches, Paula Wagner of United Artists and NBC Universal’s Ben Silverman described the growing importance of the global marketplace as an arena to sell product, acquire talent and produce movies.

“We have made films all over the world. We’ve probably made more films internationally than domestically,” said Wagner, adding that overseas tax incentives and subsidies had helped keep productions “lean and resourceful.” 

Pointing out that global revenue was on the rise, reaching record heights and accounting for two-thirds of total box office returns, Wagner said, “We rely on the international market — it’s vital for our survival.”

Silverman said NBC U is developing a series, “The Philanthropist,” which, like the “Bourne” franchise, would take place all around the world.

Also indicative of the growing magnitude of foreign business, Angela Bromstad, NBC U Intl.’s new prexy of international TV production, was in town to meet, greet and highlight company plans to enter local production in major European territories. 

Underscoring international partnerships as a route into local markets, Mexico’s Televisa Group will enter English-language TV production in the U.S., prexy-CEO Emilio Azcarraga Jean announced in a keynote address.

The TV giant will also roll out local production partnerships worldwide, Azcarraga added, laying out his vision for Televisa’s international expansion.

Televisa’s move into English-language production is driven by demographics, Azcarraga said. 

With a 75% Hispanic market share, U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, which taps Televisa telenovelas, assures Televisa a strong hold on the Spanish-speaking market, Azcarraga said. “Yet when these people begin the transition from Spanish to English, we lose them. No more.”

According to Jose Baston, Televisa’s TV division VP, Televisa is negotiating production alliances with U.S. networks, using as a jumping-off point Televisa’s vast library of fiction content.

Baston declined to disclose the identity of the networks, although the Los Angeles Times reported Lionsgate as being in the picture. The aim would not be to co-produce traditional telenovelas, he said. “We’ll have to adapt for the U.S. market.”

Meanwhile, sales announcements continued Tuesday.

In the biggest, Disney-ABC Intl. Television licensed five network series to Spanish broadcaster Antena 3. Deal included “Private Practice” and “Dirty Sexy Money,” shaping up as the Mouse House’s hottest new properties on the Croisette. 

Fox Channels Italy took Disney skeins including “Private Practice” and “Money” plus “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives.”  

Over at Sony Pictures Television Intl., reality gameshow “Power of 10” has rolled out format deals in France (TF1), Australia (Nine Network), Greece (Mega) and Chile (Chilevision).  

Canuck broadcaster CTV has bought “So You Think You Can Dance Canada,” a local version of the hit international series. Canadian format rights were secured from 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Prods., co-owners of the format.