According to a recent survey, Hungarian television audiences last year spent an average of 249 minutes a day in front of the small screen, a figure that nears the U.S. marker of 266 minutes. That’s exactly the kind of news attendees at the annual DISCOP television market in Budapest wanted to hear. Observes Jacques Braun, director of Mediametrie, ‘Commercial and public broadcasters are vying to show programs that have never been seen in these markets.’
DISCOP 2001 (June 28 to 30), which attracted 300 TV professionals from 42 countries, was the ninth annual installment of the market that is now held yearly in Budapest. Opportunities in central and eastern Europe have been heating up as producers and broadcasters jockey to introduce both new formats and older programming. In addition, programming from the region is becoming more and more competitive and sophisticated. Much of the recent growth is based on European or North American products being sold to a growing number of commercial broadcast networks throughout the region.
Second-run series are not the only ones favored in the central and east European markets. According to Mediametrie, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was the third most popular television show in the Czech Republic in 2000, for example, while U.S. gameshow Wheel of Fortune and Danish interactive series Huga are popular with Croatia’s state broadcaster HRT.
New at this year’s market were Russian and central European broadcasters who have recently started distributing their own critical takes on their histories. ‘For many years we were shown events presented as history, whereas in reality it was a kind of a fiction,’ said Julia Filimonova, sales manager at RTR, the Russian Broadcasting Corporation. ‘Now we are producing programming that tries to reveal the truth, and not just the beautified stories that were presented to the Soviet people.’