The fourth edition of DISCOP Istanbul concluded in Turkey last week, and organizers Basic Lead report that attendance figures rose by 33 percent compare to last year.

There was a 52 percent increase in the number of buyers, with a total of 1,048 delegates, over 100 companies and 67 countries represented.

According to Basic Lead, many, but unspecified number of delegates from the Middle East, the Gulf region, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia attended the market for the first time.

The lion’s  share of exhibition space was taken by the Turkish companies, which rented giant stands: ITV, Kanal D, ATV, Global Agency, Calinos and TRT. Pavilions grouping companies divided by territories — France, China, U.K., Malaysia, South Africa, Iraq and Ukraine — occupied the brighter wing of the exhibiting floor, where also meeting tables were located.

Among the newcomers exhibiting at the show this year was the Iraqi contingent, with six companies in their own pavilion; Japan’s NHK, which also hosted a cocktail on Day 2; as well as Italy’s RAI Trade and Swiss-Italian RSI.

All participants approved of the new, more spacious location at the International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC), which placed all distributors under one roof, as opposed to the fragmented hotel setting of previous years.

Conferences — hosted in a modern conference room just one floor up of the exhibiting floor and held throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — spanned the gamut of new trends in dramas and formats, public broadcasting, digital business models and branded entertainment, with a particular focus on players in the MENA region.

At the opening cocktail, organizer Patrick Zuchowicki and Globus Fairs president Hakan Adiguzel announced a 50/50 partnership for future editions of both DISCOP and ITVF (to be held June 12-14) in Istanbul. Questioned on the future of the trade show, Zuchowicki explained that having a local partner (just like there is for DISCOP Africa) allows for better synergies and faster expansion thanks to robust local support. The ambitious goal of the Turkish TV industry is to reach $1 billion in content sales within the next five years.

While DISCOP will focus eminently on content, ITVF will concentrate on hardware and technology. Zuchowicki hopes to add one more floor to the DISCOP exhibition space next year, including licensing and merchandising companies, and to reserve a brand new, nearby hotel property (currently under construction) for participants.

This will make reaching the ICEC easier, avoiding the confusion that was created on the first day of the event to reach the new venue, located several disconnected flights of outdoor stairs down the parking lot of the Istanbul Hilton.

The overall consensus among international distributors is that the tradeshow is a good venue to meet buyers from the MENA, ex-Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe regions — attendees that tend to avoid more expensive markets such as MIP — as long as costs stay low.

Indeed, there is some concern that costs could go up as a consequence of the new partnership with ITVF. This is a concern especially for Latin American companies that are now seeing a rekindled interest in their telenovela titles from the same buyers that come to DISCOP primarily to purchase Turkish series, an inventory that is limited in quantity.

As for Turkish distributors, who heavily support the event, a decrease in participation from international distributors due to spiking costs would force them to switch to a Turkish content screening event, of the type of the BBC screenings.

A few distributors complained of some logistical problems with shipments of material that didn’t arrive on time for the show, due to custom delays, and also of an inefficient online appointment system that caused several appointments to be cancelled, in addition to the usual no-shows. Organizers tried to alleviate the problem with hostesses that walked around the floor carrying message boards to locate attendees that didn’t show up at appointments.

As for the area’s political concerns and their impact on the TV industry — especially with the elections coming up at the end of March — Turkish companies don’t seem to be too worried about it. Kanal D’s Kerim Turna even said that overcoming potential problems due to the government’s instability “fuels creativity.”

On the issue of the boycott of Turkish series in certain Arab territories, Ahmet Ziyalar of ITV Inter Medya — which installed an impressive duplex stand at the entrance to the exhibition floor — explained that they are now selling their titles directly to the stations, bypassing the UAE central agents. He also adds that he feels the issue is only temporary and that their key sales effort lies in exporting content to larger territories outside the MENA region.

As the market closed, organizers confirmed that the fifth edition of DISCOP Istanbul will take place from February 24-26, 2015 at the same location. A more comprehensive DISCOP Istanbul report will be featured in the MIP-TV edition of VideoAge Monthly.

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