By Dom Serafini

Complaints that there were too many markets used to run rampant. But, as soon as, first, the Monte Carlo TV Market, and, later, MIFED, closed down, rumblings were heard about the loss of two great markets. Years ago, the industry counted over 10 TV trade shows, including Promax, and the L.A. Screenings stretched over a full month. Perhaps, in those days, the market calendar year was too crowded. Plus, traveling to meet clients was not only effective, but also efficient and desirable. Not for nothing our general motto was: “Have spouse. Must travel.”

Now, thanks to president George W. Bush –– who reportedly wants to avoid impeachment procedures and worse yet, war criminal charges, by creating and maintaining a state of alert at the world’s major airports –– traveling has added to our woes by becoming one of the most difficult aspects of the international TV business.

In addition, third and fourth elements entered into our picture. First a successful MIPCOM in mid-October took the sail off of late October’s American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California. Second, NATPE, virtually stripped of its domestic aspect, became the weakest among the major international TV trade shows, as it focused primarily on the Latin American and Hispanic (U.S.) TV markets.

The consequence of all these changes is that the international TV industry –– and especially the European side –– has no market to attend for close to six months: from mid-October (MIPCOM) to mid-April (MIP-TV).

Added to all this is the fact that, for most people, traveling is now limited to absolute necessity (for security reasons, costs and sheer fed-upness).

Nowadays airports in London, Amsterdam and Dallas, just to mention a few, are no longer just destinations or connection hubs, but pure nightmares: Except for those who enjoy having their suitcases opened to remove four ounces of aftershave, or like removing their shoes, belts and, perhaps, stripping down entirely in front of an untrained airport security guard. Plus, in Dallas, for example, the sheer size of the airport can turn a light rain into a major disaster, to the point where the airport itself could represent a national threat.

In these difficult times, TV markets not only represent a way to save money, but also a way to save time and aggravation and bring added security and comfort, especially for small international distributors.

I’m sure that, by now, you’re wondering where I’m going. Well, if you have followed some of these “2¢,” it’s fitting to recall the editorial of October 2006: The open letter to Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Indeed, now more than ever, the international TV industry needs a mid-February market — and Monte Carlo could be it.

The people in charge of these sorts of things for the Principality are well aware of this need and the “campaign” undertaken by VideoAge to resuscitate what was once a great market. We were promised that the Principality would indeed look into it, because there were some European TV executives pushing to restore the market there as well.

Even though the Internet has simplified the technical aspects of our business — in the sense that buyers these days can preview programs in streaming media in the comfort of their own offices, without sweating in a small screening room at a distributor’s booth –– the pleasure and need for a face-to-face meeting is still as present as ever. Plus, who’s ready to skip those great parties that only our industry can organize?

In addition, for Central, Eastern and Northern Europeans a mid-February break in Monte Carlo would not only be welcomed but sought-after.

Under this VideoAge-lobbied design, the calendar year for the major TV trade shows would start, as usual, in May with the L.A. Screenings, continue with MIPCOM in October, followed by NATPE in January (for Latin America) and, in February, with Monte Carlo (for the Europeans), and end in April with MIP-TV. A total of five major markets (an average of one every three months), plus a series of minor ones — for those who had, for some reason, skipped some of them (like the Jornadas in Buenos Aires, DISCOP in Budapest, the AFM and the Asia TV Forum in Singapore).

If this plan is given a chance by the industry, I’m sure that we’d all be happier and even have time to stop and smell the roses.

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