By Leah Hochbaum

The eighth annual Forum Brasil international TV market, to be held May 30-31 at the Frei Caneca Expo Center in São Paulo, Brazil, will be attended by some of Brazil’s leading networks, including Globo, SBT and Bandeirantes. The event will surely prove once again that Brazil is a most unique — if difficult — region among Latin American broadcasters for outside content providers to sell programs into.

“Brazil is quite different from other territories,” said Sheila Aguirre of FremantleMedia Enterprises, which will not be attending this year’s Forum. “They produce most of their own programming, so distributing content there is more difficult. Because Brazil is such a big market,” continued Aguirre, “the country is quite prolific in producing its own content, but they are open to outside product.”

She pointed out that Fremantle has been successful in Brazil because the country is “very open to product coming out of places other than America.” In fact, Brazil’s Record recently acquired Fremantle’s Naked Science series, as well as animal specials Penguins and Ugly Animals, and controversial political doc 638 Ways to Kill Castro. Brazil-based cable and satellite TV service Globosat bought Fremantle’s The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency and Bandeirantes just acquired two seasons of Mr. Bean: one animated, one live-action.

Flavio Medeiros, senior Sales executive, Latin America, for Granada International, which recently opened an office in Rio de Janeiro to sell content to the Brazilian market and the rest of Latin America, concurred. “Brazil is quite a different market from the rest of Latin America because its free-TV relies on local productions,” said Medeiros. “They do not commission many series from outside their own studios.”

Regardless of this ostensible obstacle, Medeiros feels Granada took a big step forward when it opened its Brazilian office. “Latin America is so big,” he said. “it’s key to have people close to the main markets.”

Medeiros is attending the upcoming Forum Brasil in the hopes of “meeting producers and find out their interests in terms of content.” And while he feels his main goal is networking, he also plans to make time to attend sessions on formats, factual productions and local incentive laws.

Johanna Samuel, director, International Sales for Canada-based CBC, would like to attend some sessions herself, but will probably spend more time helming them. “I will be speaking about the kinds of projects CBC is looking to distribute worldwide, as well as explaining our catalogue, what kind of distribution advances we are able to put up, our sales history, how we work and what works content-wise for us,” said Samuel. “I will also be speaking about our move into multiplatform distribution.” In addition, Samuel will conduct a workshop on pitching wherein she will take two or three case studies and analyze those pitches while also discussing producing for the international marketplace, as well as pitching co-productions with Canada for international distribution.

Samuel feels Forum Brasil is an important market for CBC to attend because “the production and co-production marketplace in Brazil is an exciting place right now,” she said, citing the talent and “great production infrastructure” in the region. “It makes sense for the CBC to explore potential partnerships both in co-productions and in acquisitions of programming.”