Wall Street woes worry TV industry

Issues with ads, budgets overshadow Mipcom

Worries about the triple whammy facing the international TV industry — from the stock market rout, TV ad market downturns plus foreseeably ever-tighter budgets at many foreign broadcasters as they lose share to DTT, satellite and cable — overshadowed the 24th Mipcom TV mart Sunday.

“Realistically, it’s too early for any of us to know the impact,” said ABC- Disney global TV head Ben Pyne of the financial market freefall.

But the TV industry’s always showed a remarkable ability to roll with the blows. The U.S. majors look best placed to ride out the turbulence.

“We believe we’re well positioned with major brands and franchises which people look to, great creativity which we can put across multiple platforms within our company and with our distribution partners,” Pyne said.

Disney’s sale of movie “Camp Rock” to 78 territories across free, pay and basic cable, announced Sunday, underscores Pyne’s point.

Despite the crunch, galloping  production sector concentration continues as wannabe global behemoths — ShineReveille, Mexico’s Televisa, even Blighty’s ITV — amass shows or companies.

It’s not even certain that buckling bourses and slowing economies will mean less international TV trading. In fact, they could well drive more.

As of Saturday, Mipcom attendance was up 5% on that point in the 2007 event. Final participation will surpass last year, predicted Paul Johnson, TV division director at Mipcom organizer Reed Midem. (Reed Midem, like Daily Variety, is owned by Reed Elsevier.)

“People can’t sit twiddling their thumbs in their offices. They need to sell more than ever, find where the money is,” Johnson said.

Reed Midem’s providing clues, priming attendance from what it calls the METRIC countries: Middle East, Turkey, Russia, India and China.

Mipcom rookies include Abu Dhabi Media, Kuwait’s information minister and the cash-flush Gulf Cooperation Council.

The WGA strike continues to affect trading.

Some of Disney’s newest shows — “Castle,” “Cupid,” “Single With Parents” — will only hit U.S. skeds at midseason.

Without Stateside ratings, buyers may delay purchases.

Going into Mipcom,  a Warner Bros. Intl. TV duo — the J.J. Abrams-produced “Fringe” and crime drama “The Mentalist” — plus “Knight Rider” and “90210” looked to be among the popular newer offerings.

NBC Universal’s “My Own Worst Enemy” and Fox’s “Life on Mars” were also generating buzz as upscale sophisticated fare.

“The crisis could push some broadcasters to acquire more cost-friendly product, like U.S. series, not less,” said Ghislain Barrois, director of acquisitions at Spain’s Telecinco.

So it’s an irony of sorts that buyers reaching Mipcom were complaining of far fewer new U.S. shows on offer, and, hazarding rushed development, what hasn’t been a vintage U.S. series year.

Most-watched shows at the digital library of Mipcom Jr., Mipcom’s kidshow sister event, which unspooled Saturday and Sunday, were “Jimmy Two Shoes,” from Disney-ABC-ESPN TV and Breakthrough Entertainment; Aardman Rights’ “Timmy Time”; TV Loonland’s “Leon”; Marathon Group’s “Amazing Spiez!”; and Chorion’s “Olivia.”

ShineReveille Intl. showed a Mipcom slate of 19 new shows Friday.

Highlights: MRC’s “Easy Money,” about the family loan biz, and romantic procedural “Valentine,” as well as Howe Mandel’s hidden-camera skein “Howe Do It.”

Other weighty eve-of-Mipcom announcements:

  • Blighty’s Power sold NBC drama “Crusoe” in 40-plus territories, including to Australia’s Nine Network, France’s Canal Plus, Italy’s RAI, Germany’s Tele Muenchen and Spain’s Antena 3.

  • MTVNI hits Mipcom with 30-plus formats such as “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart: Global Edition,” bought by Sweden’s SBS and the Mideast’s Gulf Showtime, and preschool hit “Dora the Explorer,” taken by NRK Norway, TV2 Denmark and SABC South Africa.

  • Fox Intl. Channels will present its first Internet show, the shortform format “Single Dads.”