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Day Two: Chillingly cold but deals warm up

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CANNES: Day Two of MipTV in Cannes was unpredictably wet, soggy and well chillingly cold.. Sales of umbrellas simply soared as savvy roadside touts exploited the opportunity hawking cheap Chinese umbrellas for as much as 15 Euros. And the takers were many as the coats were brought out and everyone pulled up their coat collars to prevent the chill from getting to their bones. Needless to say sentiment for all those concerned was dampened.

Inside the Palais de Festivals, the Americans and Canadians were celebrating with business on the upswing. According to John Helmrich an old timer attendee of MipTV, it has been a better MipTV this year than last. The previous editions were hit by the Sars scare and the Iraqi invasion. Attendance among US and Canadian companies is up and deals are being struck thanks to weakening dollar against the Euro.

Zee TV meanwhile announced that group company Zee Institute of the Creative Arts Telefilms has bagged a $five million animation content development deal from Mallard TV, a television channel in Scotland.

The keynote address delivered by BBC director television Jana Bennett had her reiterating the importance of public service broadcasting in an era of commercial and digital television. "I see a special place for publicly funded broadcasters to be the creative engine of television. The freedom from commercial pressures is a privilege and one we must not be afraid to capitalize on."She however cautioned that the review of the BBC's royal charter that is "currently underway will be crucial to determining the kind of television in the future."

She however pointed out that the "BBC will be more important in the digital interactive world - not less in providing information rich factual programmes, rib tickling comedy, impartial trusted news with an international perspective, and home grown drama and entertainment enhance by interactivity and with content increasingly powered by our own viewers."The evening belonged to the finals of WorldBest, a contest to decide on the final winner from against the 11 winners of Star Academy - a format show created by Endemol - from various countries. The glitzy ceremony held at the Palais de Festival theatre was well attended by locals but was marred by some glitches, especially its audio which failed at crucial moments when select competitors were singing.

The winner eventually was a 21-year-old French singer, Elodie Frege of France's Star Academy, who beat out contestants from 10 countries, including a Canadian duo. Wearing a red satin dress, she crooned Celine Dion's S'il Suffisait d'Aimer (If Loving Was Enough). To the surprise of all watching the finale, both Lionel Richie and Phil Collins came out and dished their stuff solo and with the young performers.

The second-place winners were Wilfred and Marie-Elaine of Canada. Together, they sang Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart, with parts of the song translated into French. Mexico's Darina descended from a swing in a sleek turquoise dress and sang Mariah Carey's song Hero for a third-place finish.

The evening was young at 11 pm and a select few made their way to the Tantra bar in Cannes behind the Noga Hilton for Fashion TV's private gig. The place was rocking with FTV promoter Michel Adam surrounded by a bevy of beauties and the liquor flowing easy and the music being mainly hip hop.

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