Majors mostly unhurt by writers strike

Top sellers say global TV crisis was averted

While the TV business community gathered at NATPE in Las Vegas in January to pontificate about “what if,” attendees at the upcoming Mip confab will be discussing “now what.”

As in: Now what’s in store for the global television buyers who are dealing with the repercussions of the Writers Guild of America strike and trying to figure out how this will affect programming in their territories?

With the work stoppage over, the ambience on the Croisette in Cannes for this 45th edition of Mip will likely feel like one giant exhale.

Several top sellers say the strike was settled in time to avoid a major global TV crisis. Sure, there are fewer episodes available but still enough to preserve the Hollywood pipeline’s steady flow.

“In our case, we have a number of shows that, while (they’re) down from the original plan, there is still a good chunk of episodes coming back,” says Armando Nunez Jr., president of CBS Paramount Intl. TV. “I think we averted a really serious issue of running out of episodes. In Canada (where episodes run at the same time as in the States) and a few places, we could’ve been in much worse shape.”

Keith Le Goy, exec VP of distribution at Sony Pictures TV Intl., isn’t quite sure business will be status quo.

“Everyone will still be scratching their heads,” Le Goy says. “What does having the strike over mean? Nobody has the answer right now and won’t have the answers for some time. We need to restart.”

Once everyone returns to the machinations of buying and selling, new shows that have fared well in their abbreviated U.S. runs could have a long shelf life overseas.

“Pushing Daisies” from Warner Bros., “Damages” from Sony, “Private Practice” from Disney, “Back to You” from Fox and “Californication” from CBS Paramount are all making inroads around the world and should have an impact at Mip. And mainstays such as NBC Universal’s “House” still shine.

As for events at the Palais, there are panels on such topics as how the TV industry can work to become more environmentally friendly, trends in Japanese programming, how advertisers can embrace mobile media and the importance of social networking.

Shine Group CEO Elisabeth Murdoch will give the TV keynote address, “Creativity Without Borders,” on April 7, while Mattel exec Richard Dickson will deliver the marketing keynote the following evening on “The Evolution of a Living Brand.”