Recession-proof television at MIPTV

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The Independent Culture

Inexpensive TV formats adaptable worldwide, and big budget co-productions allowing broadcasters and producers to share out costs, are set to dominate this year's MIPTV show opening on Monday.

Recession blues will be in the air through the four-day fair, the world's largest audiovisual entertainment trade show, but business types will also be looking at the 3D space to see what broadcasters are ready to deliver after the massive success of blockbuster sci-fi fiction "Avatar".

"Co-production will be a big theme as the market continues to become more global in nature, and as territories come out of recession, look for ways of spreading costs and expanding their reach," Laurine Garaude, head of the TV division for organizers Reed Midem, told AFP.

Industry experts also expect buyers to be out in force to snap up the latest reality formats, game shows and entertainment formats that have become the backbone of many broadcasters' daily viewing fare.

While Britain arguably generates the biggest output in the field, the Netherlands, Italy, France, as well as newcomers Turkey and Israel, are showing considerable creativity in the genre, Garaude said.

Almost 10 percent more buyers have registered to date compared with 2009, with a significant jump from Britain, the United States, eastern Europe, China, Russia, India and the Middle East, organizers said.

Some 50 new exhibitors are attending, including newcomers from Lithuania, India, China, Iran and Japan. Argentina is hosting a pavilion for the first time.

A producers' forum meanwhile will include regional co-production workshops for insights into how to work with nations such as Brazil, Canada, Japan, Malaysia and China.

Singapore, historically a prime mover in co-productions and this year's MIPTV "country of focus", is sending Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Ye to speak at the forum.

Asian nations are extremely active in co-productions, with Japan's leading NHK broadcaster currently working on a major project with Discovery's Science Channel titled "Squid; Last Mystery Of The Deep", that hopes to locate and film for the first time a huge elusive squid measuring over 30 feet.

But newest kid on the block in co-productions is China, experts said.

Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) recently unveiled a first Singapore-China-UK high definition (HD) deal for a documentary tracking the race to restore six of the world's most famous monuments before they crumble.

Britain's ITV Studios has also inked a ground-breaking deal with Chinese broadcaster Hunan Television early this year to co-develop and co-own formats that will be produced locally by the Chinese TV company.

Hunan's move is part of its goal to air new formats in China rather than buy western ones.

On the 3D front, one of the leaders in the field, British-based satellite network BSkyB which has been experimenting with it for 18 months, will be looking for content for a new channel, CEO Jeremy Darroch said.

"3D can enhance the viewing experience no matter what the type of programming it is applied to," Darroch said in the fair's news preview. "Sky 3D, Europe's first 3D channel, arrives in our HD customers' homes later this year."

As usual, a round of TV stars are jetting in to promote new shows, including Jason Priestley, who after hit FOX series Beverly Hills 90210 is starring in a comedy series about a used car salesman, "Call Me Fitz".

And "Star Trek"'s Captain Kirk, William Shatner, will be in town for Cineflux's recent "Weird or What?

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