The baby of the international program market, the Monte Carlo Television Market, faces rumors every year that this will be the last.
Attendance dropped dramatically during The Gulf War, when the Americans decided to stay home, and NATPE reaped the benefits of the overspill exhibitors and buyers. Market organizer, David Tomatis, is at pains to point out that he is not in competition with the U.S. market (‘they have 18,000 visitors, we have 2,500 . . .’) having signed a cross-promotional deal with the rival show this year.
Although, some of his exhibitors believe NATPE has too many people, he claims. ‘Most of our supporters like the fact that they have quality working conditions in Monaco and time to speak with their clients. We’ve had our critics over the last few years, but in Monaco you get something different to all the other markets. Here you can sit down and have the time to work through a contract.’
Though Tomatis concedes a slight drop in the number of exhibitors this year (he expects 105 against a maximum capacity of 120), the number of buyers attending has increased, with 700 heading for Monaco. More cause for relief among its organizers is that, after an enormous sales push involving questionnaires sent out to all exhibitors about who they would like to see attending, 45 companies are trying it out for the first time, and 400 will be there under the guise of ‘non-exhibitors’ (that is, not-invited buyers).
‘Another factor in the drop in exhibitors is the number of mergers that have taken place over the last year within the television industry,’ says Tomatis. ‘We’ve always had all the major companies attending, and two or three companies merging on a scale as small as ours is a significant number. But all the same people still attend, just under one company.’
From the buyer’s perspective, Michael Carrington, deputy head of acquisitions at BBC Children’s attends both Monte Carlo and NATPE. ‘I go to NATPE specifically to meet with the Americans, and Monte Carlo to see my usual European contacts. It gives me a clearer picture to separate the two.’
Shopping with a slightly higher budget this year, Carrington is on the hunt for comedy and drama aimed at seven to nine year old girls and boys as well as animation, although ‘if I see something outstanding that isn’t in those categories, I’ll go for it straight away,’ he says. As a market veteran, he has a fondness for Monte Carlo, but believes it will, by necessity, become specifically European. Also an attendee of the Cardiff, Annecy and Cartoon festivals and markets in Europe, he maintains all are vital. ‘All the major markets are good for children’s programming there is always new product. Companies tend to launch something new at each market.
‘I’ve only once come back with nothing at last year’s Cartoon Forum.’ He still plans to go again. As for Monte Carlo, rumors of its demise, as they say, might be somewhat premature.