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Bouyant Business At Milestone 50th MIPTV

CANNES, France, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 11,000 people from over 100 countries, representing every aspect of the television ecosystem, gathered in Cannes this week, as MIPTV celebrated its 50 th anniversary and the industry resolutely turned its eyes to the future – a future where content remains king.

Highlights of the 50 th MIPTV included a plethora of deals, demos of the crystal-clear quality of 4K Ultra HD, which is being pioneered by Sony, packed keynote addresses, an impassioned plea from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the television industry to support the United Nation's Global Education First Initiative, a stellar line-up of talent and a full-house World Premier TV Screening of 'Da Vinci's Demons' (produced by Adjacent Productions for Starz and sold internationally by BBC Worldwide).

And it was a sign of the changing times that among the 4,000 programme acquisition executives in Cannes, 800 were VOD and digital buyers – a 30% increase on last year. Indeed, digital figured strongly throughout MIPTV and if there was one point on which most people agreed in the MIPCube conference programme and related discussions throughout MIPTV, it was that to be successful, brands need to create their own voice online and get it heard.

Confirming MIPTV's continued international appeal, there were significant year-on-year increases in the numbers of companies participating from Russia (+18%), Ukraine (+30%), Brazil (+17%) and the United Arab Emirates (+58%).

With 79 companies represented, China's delegation, headed by LI Wei, Vice Minister of the newly-formed General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, was the largest ever at MIPTV.

MIPTV delegates discovered that at MIPCOM 2013, Argentina will take centre stage as the event's Country of Honour.

New Developments & Deals Abound

As MIPTV progressed, a slew of international deals were announced. Discovery Communications President and CEO, David Zaslav, told his keynote audience that his company had completed its deal to acquire Scandinavian broadcaster SBS. The deal comes on the heels of Discovery's recent acquisition of a 20% stake in pan-European sports channel Eurosport.

FremantleMedia optioned French series 'Hollywood Girls' in countries across Europe and Latin America. And partners FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment and Mattel chose MIPTV to announce they have greenlit a second season of animated series hit ' Max Steel.'

News filtered out that Warner Bros. International Television Production had taken format rights for Spanish production company 60db's 'Money Time,' while leading German channel RTL announced it is going ahead with Shine Germany's gameshow 'Cash Crash' and the BBC announced it is commissioning two new drama series, 'The Great War' from Red Planet Pictures and an untitled project from Jim McGovern's RSJ Film.

China's public broadcaster CCTV had a particularly active MIPTV. Venevision International acquired documentary series ' China's Mega Projects' from CCTV and BBC Worldwide has lined up with CCTV 9 to co-produce natural history series 'Hidden Kingdoms.' In addition, Austria's ORF and CCTV signed a coproduction agreement covering nature and wildlife films, the first of which will be 'Triumph of the Tomato.'

France's leading pay-tv channel Canal Plus picked up the first season of two US dramas 'Banshee' and 'Vikings,' and Canal Plus is forming a long-term alliance with A+E Networks which includes the launch of pay channels on the Canal Satellite platform, which will draw on A+E's extensive catalogue of factual programming. A+E Networks powered into Cannes with first day sales of factual entertainment series 'Duck Dynasty' in Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, Singapore and Canada.

Long-standing MIPTV attendee Endemol drew plenty of attention as Tim Hincks, President of Endemol Group and MIPTV keynote speaker, announced that the company is once again looking at possible mergers and acquisitions. Endemol launched the AMC drama 'Low Winter Sun' at MIPTV, the latest project in Endemol's development of its scripted entertainment business.

Hincks also indicated that Endemol is preparing the launch of a 'Fear Factor' channel on YouTube in the United States and then Europe. Acknowledging the growing presence of YouTube at MIPTV, he indicated that part of Endemol's strategy is to continue to develop channels around its established brands. Endemol has over 100 channels currently on YouTube.

Content and Creators Still Kings

BSkyB's Sophie Turner Laing set the tone of MIPTV during her April 8 keynote address. "Let's spend the precious time here together this week discussing the shows, not the pipes. New technology can open up fantastic new opportunities. But it's the art of storytelling that engages and enthralls audiences," she commented.

Turner Laing revealed that high-end, original drama will be the next stage of Sky's growth. She announced a major new drama commission - 13-part crime series 'Fortitude' – to be produced for Sky Atlantic by British independent production company Fifty Fathoms and Starz.

Underlining the continued importance of the content creatives, a slew of heavyweight US showrunners were at MIPTV. They included 'Da Vinci's Demons' writer and showrunner David S. Goyer, Tim Kring, creator of cult series 'Heroes' and 'Touch,' Ed Bernero and 'CSI' mastermind Anthony E. Zuiker – who received the 2013 Pioneer Prize at the International Digital Emmy Awards during MIPTV.

Bernero strode up the busiest MIPTV Red Carpet ever as part of his promotion of 'Crossing Lines,' a 10x60 mins crime series he developed, wrote and produced with Germany's Tandem Communications.

'Crossing Lines' is indicative of the renewed interest in international co-productions. Tandem initially brought the project idea to Bernero who noted during MIPTV, "I'd been trying to get this kind of Europe-based ensemble project off the ground for years." The series joins a lengthening list of shows being devised outside the US studio system. Bernero added "this has been a freeing experience and explains why a growing number of US showrunners are attracted by this (international) approach." France's TF1 is co-producing and the series has already been acquired by NBC, RAI and Sat1.

Showrunners weren't the only talent at MIPTV. An increasing number of production and distribution companies now bring stars to the event to support international sales of their programmes.

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