Broadcasters descend on Shanghai TV fest

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Shanghai Film Festival

Now in its 16th edition, the Shanghai TV Festival has become a can't-miss opportunity for global broadcasters intent on cracking the coveted Chinese market.

The event, which takes place just before the Shanghai International Film Festival from June 7-11, will unite hundreds of producers, broadcasters, new media companies and equipment makers to buy and sell their wares and services in between panel discussions, an awards show and market at the Shanghai Exhibition Center.

Overseas visitors include the likes of Warner Bros., Japanese statecastser NHK and, back after missing a year, Deutsche Welle. New arrivals at Shanghai this year include Telemundo, TV Azteca and Grammy distributor Alfred Haber.

But getting a foothold in the local TV market will not be easy. Sellers hoping to ride the coattails of localized shows from the BBC and Televisa, whose "Ugly Wudi" is now in its fourth season on Hunan Satellite TV, should come prepared for an increasingly competitive marketplace.

"As in any country in the world, the internal labyrinth of a TV stations is complex, and it is important to find the right person that will stand for the format from the buying though to the broadcasting," says Arturo Casares, Televisa's chief Asia adviser, based in Beijing.

Maggie Zhou of SMG subsidiary Wings Media -- which is charged with acting as a buying and selling bridge between China and the rest of the world -- says it's important for guests in Shanghai to respect the increasing sophistication of domestic Chinese television.

"The demand for pure overseas content could prove to be smaller than hoped for," says Zhou, who adds that visitors to the festival should make appointments in advance through companies like Bejing-based media consultancy CMMI, whose more than 10 years experience in China has helped numerous overseas clients.

On the buyer side, Wings is looking for format television along the lines of "The Amazing Race" and "You've Got Talent," both recently bought for localization by SMG-owned broadcasters ICS and Dragon TV, respectively, Zhou says.

"We want formats that can exploit multiple platforms," Zhou adds.
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