Global Village: China’s ‘Small’ Towns’ Big B.O. Effect; Brits Hit Music Record, More

International News Briefs: Industry Highlights from Around the World

International Briefs: China ‘Small’ Towns' Big


Tussle Over TV Ratings
Sony Entertainment Television, Times TV and NDTV have discontinued subscriptions with Kantar and Nielsen’s TAM Media Research, India’s leading TV ratings agency; TAM data determines spending for 75% of India’s annual $2.4 billion ad budget. The three TV nets claim anomalies in the measurement of small markets (those below 100,000 people), saying they bring down average ratings for channels nationwide. TAM began measuring smaller markets after complaints from broadcaster Doordarshan, whose channels are often the only ones available in the more remote areas. TAM reps said they are open to discussions on the topic. Meanwhile, the Advertising Agencies Assn. of India and Indian Society of Advertisers are supporting TAM, saying its data is essential until the 2014 launch of ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council, a joint venture among the AAAI, ISA and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation.
— Naman Ramachandran


Tiers of Joy for Local Pics
When Hollywood execs think of China’s $3 billion film market, they should think beyond big-city tastes, according to research firm EntGroup Consulting. Its report shows that 284 third- and fourth-tier Chinese cities accounted for 34% of the nation’s ticket sales last year, compared with 37% for seven first-tier cities. The company expects the lowertier share to hit 42% by the end of 2015, due to the saturation of cinemas in bigger cities. First-tier cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, while there are 12 second-tier cities, 30 third-tier cities and a great number of fourth tiers. Many of the “smaller” cities have populations similar to large urban centers in the U.S. The EntGroup report cited Panjin, in Liaoning province, as a fourth-tier city, where 2012 B.O. hit $4.17 million, a jump of 867% from $265,000 a year earlier. But auds in third- and fourth-tier cities tend to prefer domestic films to imported ones.
— Clifford Coonan


Biz Frets Over Human Rights
Showbizzers enchanted by the biz potential in Russia are worried about two bills passed by lawmakers. One proposes a prison sentence for statements or actions “committed with intent to offend the religious feelings of the faithful”; it follows last year’s conviction of three members of Pussy Riot for “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred.” The other bill outlaws distribution to children of “propaganda about nontraditional sexual relations”; any media group that equates gay/lesbian relationships with hetero ones could face heavy fines. “These bills reflect the Russian authorities’ determination to dictate what people can and cannot say in all areas of life, from the political to the social,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia program director at Amnesty Intl. “They are a backward step that should set alarm bells ringing.”
— Leo Barraclough


Televisa Says Viva Veo
Televisa will launch Internet streaming service Veo, challenging rival content providers like Netflix and Carlos Slim, among others. Veo combines a basic SVOD service and TVOD for premium product. It will also produce original programming and will use Televisa’s huge library, Televisa exec Carlos Sandoval told website Prensario.net. Veo enters a crowded field, including cinema chain Cinepolis’ Klic, ClaroVideo (owned by Slim’s America Video), iTunes, Netflix and Walmart-owned Vudu. A telecommunications law, signed June 10 by president Enrique Pena Nieto, may limit Televisa’s free-to-air biz, so diversification makes sense.
— John Hopewell


Pub-TV: The Ripple Effect
The Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union temporarily revived pubcaster ERT’s news channel last week, and then collected signatures of more than 50 Euro directors general asking Greece to resume broadcasts of the radio and TV stations, which had been taken off the air as a cost-saving measure.

On June 11, prime minister Antonis Samaras had shut down ERT, laying off more than 2,600 employees.

Protests began around the country, including a 24-hour general strike by the country’s two biggest unions.

EBU intervened June 13, and beamed a feed sent by journalists inside the occupied ERT headquarters into Greek homes, via satellite link and live-streaming on the EBU website. ERT’s three television stations and multiple radio outlets (both local and national) are funded by Greek households, which add €4.30 ($5.74) to their monthly electric bills.

The government has announced plans for a leaner version of the pubcaster to return to air at the end of August, with a radically reduced staff of 1,200.

The government declared that the pubcaster had been mismanaged for years, but protesters said that was the government’s fault.

Though many citizens were unfazed by the actions, many are predicting new elections. The long-term consquences could even affect the European bailout program.
— Nick Vivarelli


Brits Spin Music Record
U.K. music artists’ share of global album sales hit a record 13.3% in 2012, said music industry org BPI. Figures are attributed to the success of acts such as One Direction and Adele. Her “21” topped the global bestseller chart for the second year running in 2012, the first album to do so. U.K. acts have now claimed the world’s top-selling album for five of the past six years.
— Diana Lodderhose


Animation Biz Tooned In
The Swedish toon industry is powering up at the Annecy Intl. Animation Film Fest market, with a record four projects in production, all backed by the Swedish Film Institute: the S3D adventure “Beyond Beyond”; action-packed friendship tale “Bamse and the City of Thieves”; hybrid musical feature “Annabell Olsson’s Spectacularities”; and “Emil and Ida of Lonneberga,” an adaptation of Astrid Lindgren’s series of children’s books.
— Elsa Keslassy


Vodafone Calls on Kabel
Cell-phone company Vodafone has Germany’s top cable television company in its sights. Vodafone has made a bid for Kabel Deutschland, which supplies 8.5 million households in a deal that could be worth more than €7 billion ($9.3 billion). Vodafone amped up its German business via a partnership with Deutsche Telekom to offer pay TV via high-speed broadband to its customers. The moves mark a shift in strategy for Vodafone, which has more than 407 million customers worldwide. Chief exec Vittorio Colao has expressed his desire to offer customers bundled packages containing television, mobile and broadband. The company is thought to be looking to acquire or partner with other European cablers.
— Leo Barraclough


Atresmedia in WB Pact
Who said foreign broadcasters no longer want movies? Some, such as Atresmedia Television, Spain’s second-biggest broadcast network, are movie guzzlers. On June 12, Atresmedia announced it will air all Warner Bros. movies bowed in the U.S. over 2012-14, as well as exclusive runs of four WB TV series each year. The content will play out over Atresmedia’s bouquet of seven channels. Atresmedia saw success broadcasting WB movies on niche movie service LaSexta3. Just how much Atresmedia paid is another question. As Spain suffers economically, competition for top product has dwindled, turning the country into a buyers’ market. And only Mediaset Espana and Atresmedia are really buying.
— John Hopewell


Anti-Mafia Film Fest
Italy’s most unique film festival may well be Libero Cinema in Libera Terra, in which movies are screened outdoors in venues confiscated from the Mafia and areas freed from the clutches of organized crime. This year’s edition, June 18 to July 18, will include a screening of Eugene Jarecki’s war-on-drugs docu “The House I Live In.” This year’s eighth edition of the itinerant sprocket opera will take place in symbolic Sicilian sites, including towns Portella della Ginestra, Trapani, Sant’Elisabetta di Agrigento and Gela.
— Nick Vivarelli


Artists Lend Support
Filmmakers have weighed in supporting protesters — and condemning police violence — in response to the government’s plans to build over an Istanbul park last month. On June 14, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked protesters to leave Gezi Park, following talks that led to a tentative agreement. Meanwhile, messages of solidarity remain on artistsinresistance.com, where helmers including Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Semih Kaplanoglu and Fatih Akin blasted government actions.
— Nick Vivarelli


Men-Only TV Comedy
A cultural crackdown in Egypt by ultra-conservative Islamic groups, who disapprove of TV shows in which men and women mix, has prompted the country’s first all-male sitcom, “Cafe Show,” which will air next month during Ramadan. Centered on a group of men chewing the fat in a street cafe, the sitcom is being touted by director Wagdy El-Araby as religiously correct fare for the holy month, and will be beamed via Islamic satellite channel Al-Hafez. Islamization of Egyptian TV follows recent protests over what is being called the “Muslim Brotherhoodization” of the government-run Cairo Opera after its respected female chief, Enes Abdel-Dayem, was suddenly fired in May. Egypt’s ultraconservative Nour Party is also trying to cancel ballet performances because they encourage “immorality” and “nude art.”
— Nick Vivarelli

(Compiled by Tim Gray.)