By Leah Hochbaum Rosner

Rather than expand vertically, DISCOP grew horizontally this year. In order to accommodate the increased number of exhibitors, organizers made new suites available for rent beyond the fire doors of the market’s three hotel floors.

With 1,522 attendees, DISCOP 2007, which was held at the end of June at the Sofitel Atrium Hotel in Budapest, saw record attendance, surpassing last year’s totals in categories across the board. Attendance climbed 38 percent, up from 2006’s 1,104. There was an all-time high of 901 buyers from Central and Eastern Europe, representing 678 national, regional and thematic TV stations, DVD distributors, cable and satellite operators, format production companies and IPTV and mobile stations. In addition, 530 television content sales execs, representing 383 TV content distribution companies from 41 countries were also on hand to do business with a total of 242 exhibiting companies.

“The record attendance and added participation from new territories reinforce the booming TV business that is shaping up in Central and Eastern Europe,” said Patrick Jucaud, general manager of DISCOP.

Roz Parker, Sales manager for National Geographic Television International, concurred. “Eastern Europe is a rapidly developing marketplace, with an increasing number of channels needing content. DISCOP is the best place to meet new buyers and establish precisely what their needs are.”

Distraction’s Barbara Vallant found that comedy was a top draw at DISCOP, having worked on a deal for scripted sitcom Serial Frank in Russia while at the market. She attributed the “liberalization of the media in many Eastern European countries and the increase of TV advertising” for the recent growth of the Eastern European television marketplace. But she feels that much could still be done to try and attract more Russian buyers to the Budapest conference.

Meggan Kimberley of Regent Entertainment concurred with Vallant’s assessment of the rapidly-growing region, adding that “for so many years [the area] was oppressed, and now with the economies improving, and some of the countries joining the European Union, they have many more opportunities for growth.”

Regent did its fair share of business at the market, including finalizing a volume deal with TV Markiza, extending a volume deal in Romania, closing deals in the former Yugoslavia, and initiating new deals in Bulgaria and the Ukraine. “It was busy for us,” said Kimberley.

Budapest was also busy for MarVista Entertainment. The company’s Vanessa Goglio said that since DISCOP is “smaller and more manageable than big conferences like MIP, we can really concentrate on one part of Europe and offer the best services we can in the region.”

Plus, added Distraction’s Vallant, “this market allows us to meet with our clients from Eastern European countries, who do not always attend the MIP festivals in Cannes. It also enables us to have more time to discuss deals or follow up on our meetings from other markets on a more personal basis.”

Jo Lovell, Sales director, International, for Carsey-Werner, agreed, saying: “I go to DISCOP to meet with buyers I don’t normally meet — those who can’t afford to go to MIP or MIPCOM. It’s also a great opportunity to meet with fellow distributors and swap information.”

DISCOP is also a major market for the Latins. Michelle Wasserman, who handles scripted sales for Telefe said “Eastern Europe is important to us, but there’s a recent tendency toward local production that makes for a very competitive market. Now, in addition to other Latin telenovoleros, I need to compete with places like Croatia that are producing their own novelas.” Despite this possible setback, Wasserman completed deals with Poland’s TVN and Polsat.

In addition to the business that was done, DISCOP’s newest program, DISCOPRO, a daylong conference and networking event dedicated to co-productions, drew 97 participants and 27 speakers at a number of panels and sessions. Its success ensures that the program will become a permanent fixture of the market in future years.

“With the success of this year’s event, the market continues to develop as a must-attend event in the eyes of international and U.S. buyers,” said DISCOP’s Jucaud.