Indian companies seek to find their footing at Mipcom

CANNES: It is known to be one of the biggest markets for television programming, along with Natpe, which is held in the US. And there's no doubt that it attracted companies and individuals from India or of Indian origin in droves. 

Cable TV operators, DTH providers, animation service providers, small studios with their own ready made pilots, large studios, programme producers, distributors advertising film makers - they were all there.

Some came to acquire programming, others to sell. Some came to forge co-production deals, some to seal them. Some, just to mark their presence. Some came to watch the various programmes and awards shows held in Monte Carlo and parties in swanky hotels along the lovely Croisette.

Mipcom 2003, held in the Palais des Festivals, where the Cannes film festival is held, can be a horrendous nightmare. With 1,243 companies exhibiting, it is like a maze, which needs to navigated, maneuvered around, to get maximum benefits out of it. Unless you plan your meetings in advance, your money might well go down the toilet. Unless you endeavour to know the market before, it is ditto once again.

The rate for booths ranges from Rs 400,000 to even as high as seven million rupees. To attend as a participant, you have to cough up between Euros 1,300 to Euros 2,500. The parties here are shockingly expensive: costing between Euros 10,000 to as high as even 200,000 Euros.

Among the Indian or Indian originating companies which took up booths figured Suman Video, World Entertainment Group, Bollywood Eros Entertainment, E-City Entertainment representing Zee TV, and Star India. While E-City was both buying and selling, the rest were simply in the selling mode. And all of them said that the market has proved to be good. Says Star India biz development head Shantanu Nalllavady ?Wow! is all I can say. We recover our costs and make money out of markets. There has been a lot of interest in our product.? Zee TV, World Entertainment Group, and Eros all reported deals which were swimmingly pleasing.

Adds Aim Television?s Iqbal Malhotra ? he preferred to be a participant without a stand, he chose to have a mailbox instead. ?I had a lot of residual library left in my portfolio and I managed to find buyers, which was terrific.?

UTV boss Ronnie Screwvala of course came to service clients with whom he is doing major animation contracts. And he had a huge happy grin on his face. Obviously things had turned out well for him. His former UTV Toons CEO Biren Ghose who has set up an animation firm Animation Bridge and was striding the aisles also looked pleased.

The other bunch of Indian Mipcomers - the animation guys from Chennai and Hyderabad ? well they came a-browsing seeking to get service animation work or to understand the market. Pentamedia was there. For some such as Parijat Studio?s 25-year old Aatish Tripathi, it was an eye-opener. ?So many companies showed an interest in my product,? he says. ?Warner, Disney, I am amazed. I am now looking for service animation work.?

Some of them were however disappointed. Said one of the Indian participants, "Wish we had more coordinated Indian activity like the other countries do," he said. "We felt cheap, not being represented as a country. And also there's a syndrome here: not many Indians like to help the other, each is so eager to get the business for himself. They don't like to give newcomers any room even edgewise. Which is fine, but I guess, we will get more business if we work jointly as a front."

A point well made. For until that is done, the efforts may well be stray and scattered. And India?s entertainment TV exports, may well end up being just a drop in the ocean. Rather than a wave. Which is the way China looks to be going.

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