By Leah Hochbaum Rosner

While TV executives the world over are gearing up for MIPCOM, the world of French TV is first preparing for a smaller, more localized market, Le Rendez-Vous. The 14th annual affair, which will take place September 8-12 in Biarritz, will gather more than 220 acquisitions execs from 40 countries to view the latest product from French TV companies, all members of TV France International (TVFI). VideoAge spoke with TVFI’s head Mathieu Bejot to find out what’s new at the market this year, how new French government rules on television advertising are affecting the region, and if taking place shortly before MIPCOM is a good thing.

VideoAge International: Tell me about the upcoming Le Rendez-Vous. What’s new and exciting at this year’s event?

Mathieu Bejot: The market will be fairly traditional. French companies will screen their product for buyers. Thus far, we know of more than 800 titles that will be screened. We’ve organized some lunches and networking opportunities, as well. But we like to keep it small, on a human scale. One of our main goals is to keep a balance between working and networking. Also, we’ll be in Biarritz again for the second year in a row.

VAI: You used to be in St. Tropez. Why is Biarritz a better locale for this sort of television event?

MB: St. Tropez was fun, but the venue was getting too small for us. In Biarritz, we’re in a proper conference center. It’s a nice setting and very efficient. Also, most hotels are in walking distance of the convention hall. In St. Tropez, we needed shuttle buses.

VAI: How many people will be at Le Rendez-Vous?

MB: We’ll have about 55 French companies in attendance, as well as more than 200 buyers. We’re not yet sure about final numbers. But we’re in line with last year. It looks pretty good so far.

VAI: With all the new rules in place regulating advertising on French public television, how will the market be affected?

MB: We’re still trying to figure out what the impact will be. The government plans to tax telecom operators and Internet providers in order to make back the money they’ll lose from banning advertisements on public television. This is being hotly debated here. During the market, we’ll talk figures, and try to figure out how this will all work. The big fear is that French TV will have less money and make fewer programs. A number of new programs have already been shelved. There’s lots of uncertainty here at the moment.

VAI: Do you ever worry that there are too many fall TV events, what with MIPCOM, SPORTELMonaco, the Florida Media Market, AFM and Le Rendez-Vous, just to mention a few, all happening around the same time?

MB: It’s certainly a concern. But this is still a person-to-person business, and for us, having Le Rendez-Vous one month before MIPCOM works quite well. People can meet by us and then not have to meet up at MIPCOM, or they can start negotiations during Rendez-Vous and finish during MIPCOM.