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TVFI’s Rendez-Vous switches seas

Market moves to Biarritz from Saint Tropez

This year marks a sea change for the Gallic Rendez-Vous. Literally.

The tradeshow/market moves to Biarritz on the Atlantic after nine years at Saint Tropez on the Mediterranean.

Organizer TV France Intl. hopes the move is a sign of the event’s strength. With attendance growing, the Rendez-Vous, which began so small it could fit in a boat off the coast of Corsica, no longer needs the Riviera to lure attendees.

But TVFI hopes the event’s trademark conviviality will remain.

“Biarritz is a little less jet-set than Saint Tropez but it has a very art deco, beginning-of-the-century charm,” says TVFI CEO Mathieu Bejot. “And it’s been a famous vacation destination since the time of Napoleon.”

TVFI made the move because it felt Rendez-Vous had outgrown Saint Tropez.

This year the event broke records for the number of exhibitors and buyers for the show’s 13th edition, taking place Sept. 3-7.

Rendez-Vous expects to host 50 French exhibitors and 249 foreign buyers, up 10% over last year.

The Rendez-Vous owes its high turnout, at least in part, to its concept of mixing leisure with business, which encourages bonding between exhibitors and buyers.

“We have breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and we sleep in the (same) hotel as buyers, so they really can’t escape us,” says INA’s international development manager, Michelle Gautard. “At the end of the show we’re like a big family. It’s ideal for us.”

Some exhibitors fear the new location in Biarritz might change that sort of atmosphere, though.

“Personally, I’m going to miss Saint Tropez,” says Patrick Rizat-Sibourg, sales exec of Six Francs, a Paris-based production company focusing mostly on feature films and documentaries. “It’s such a small village that we would always run into each other.”

And more bonding means more business, according to Rizat-Sibourg. “It’s there that we make the bulk of our annual sales revenues.”

But the shows remain the main draw for buyers. “To me, it’s all about the programs,” says Mikael Osterby, a Swedish distrib for Sveriges Television AB (SVT). “That’s the deal.”

The center of the market will be the Bellevue, where buyers will have access to a digital library of 850 programs. The event will be divided in two areas: one to watch programs and another to buy them.

This setup makes buyers happy because it allows them to watch what they want and take their time without being influenced by exhibitors.

And the programs on offer at Rendez-Vous possesses a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that woos foreign buyers. “French programs have a distinct personality. You can almost always distinguish them,” Osterby says.

The success of Gallic format exports in Germany, Italy, Spain, England and Canada has also contributed to making the Rendez-Vous a must-go event, per Bejot.

And this year’s tradeshow will welcome buyers from new countries, including South Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) and Quatar’s Al Jazeera, looking for edgy Gallic fare.

Between September 2005 and June 2006, French exports enjoyed 10% more viewers in those markets, according to a study conducted by Mediametrie/Eurodata TV.

And the exports of “Intervilles,” “Les Maternelles” and “Fort-Boyard,” all highly popular and financially viable Gallic shows, have proved to have international appeal.

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