At the 2014 Kidscreen Summit in New York City, the opinion of Italian children’s TV executives in attendance was that this year’s edition was not on par with previous ones. It is, of course, possible that the unrelenting bad weather that hit New York City in February contributed to the low participation.

Kidscreen Summit is an annual event created by Kidscreen, a Canadian magazine that specializes in television programs for children. It takes place annually at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan.

Unlike MIPCOM Junior, the event is not all about the sale of rights, but rather revolves around a conference schedule that facilitates meetings between producers, distributors and some buyers.

The publisher relies on the fact that Canada is indeed “the gatekeeper” through which animated productions can arrive on American TV screens and, subsequently, LATAM TV screens. Kidscreen Summit attracts European producers, especially Italians, looking for contacts for co-productions with Canadians. In fact, Kidscreen Summit was born as a Canadian event and is supported by Canadian animation companies and a combination of government subsidies for Canadians.

The event could be easily incorporated into the NATPE market that takes place in late January in a much more welcoming climate: Miami Beach, Florida, but the American association that organizes NATPE conceded control over TV programs for children to the Canadian magazine. As if this weren’t enough, the same publisher has developed Reelscreen Summit in Washington, D.C., in direct competition with NATPE, which forced NATPE to move the dates of its next trade show one week earlier than usual.

The reason so many trade journals organize trade fairs and conferences nowadays is due to the fact that now even the largest publishing houses cannot survive with advertising revenue alone. Publications use their marketing power to create their own exhibitions, but lose part of their independence in the process.

Traditionally these types of publication-organized trade fairs do not allow easy access to other members of the press, therefore participants and potential participants struggle to receive accurate reports on the events.

Kidscreen Summit hinges primarily on its conferences, and according to some participants, that’s are not enough to justify a trip to the U.S. given the fact that the conferences could be followed online via streaming.

In fact, according to Matteo Corradi of Italy’s Mondo TV, his company prefers to participate in Toy Fair, which took place in New York City just after Kidscreen Summit.

According to an estimate by Luca Milano, deputy director of Rai Fiction, Kidscreen Summit was attended by 15 Italian companies, some without accreditation, such as Giovanna Bo, founder of Achtoons in Bologna, who couldn’t justify the high cost of registration given the results expected.

To minimize costs, Bo limited herself to meeting potential Canadian co-producers in the hotel lobby, considering also that Achtoons’ product is distributed worldwide by Bejuba! Entertainment, a Toronto-based company specializing in animation.

Achtoons is a production and post-production company established in 1999, and since 2009 they’ve been producing their own cartoons for pre-schoolers, including Matí Dadá, a 39 x 7 minute series (13 more are in development).

At Kidscreen Summit there were also Italian companies such as Sample, which specializes in dubbing for animation. Among the largest Italian animation companies to attend was Rainbow, represented by Luana Perrero, who primarily focused on the sales of the sixth season of Winx and the new series, Royal Academy.

Representing the international sales department of RAI was Sabrina Eleuteri, who was interested in selling the animated series Zecchino d’ Oro, which consists of 116 segments of three-minutes each, and Arthur and Kiwi, an animated cooking series (52 x 4). At Kidscreen Summit, Eleuteri announced the relaunch of RAI’s animation catalog following the restructuring of the department, as well as the expansion of their catalog with the acquisition of quality animation product not just from Italy.

Kidscreen Summit also offered an opportunity to analyze how animation in Italy is now in the hands of mainly four companies (Rainbow, Atlantyca, Mondo TV and The Animation Band), and the poor state the sector is now going through.