Latin America focus for this year's NATPE

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While European buyers and sellers favor the Cannes-based MIP and MIPCOM, NATPE has become a must-attend for buyers from burgeoning markets all over the world, including Asia and Eastern Europe. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the Latin American media sector.

With major media interests like Globo TV looking to expand their international TV activities and American studios like Sony Pictures Television International forging deals specific to Latin America, the region has become a focus for buyers and sellers alike. Although Latin Americans have always attended NATPE in big numbers, this year marks a greater push on production within the territory itself.

Brendan Fitzgerald, SPTI's senior vp international production, says NATPE will be a key factor for SPTI as it ramps up its local production operations throughout Latin America.

Acting as Strix Television's representative in Latin America -- an arrangement that SPTI cemented with the Nordic production company in October -- has given SPTI more than 70 formats that broadcasters can license for local adaptation (and in certain territories, for SPTI to directly produce the programs). Among the formats being offered are "The Farm," "The Bar," "Paradise Lost," "All for One" and "Kerry's Getting Married."

Having already made big inroads into local production in the region with versions of such hit scripted shows as "The Nanny," "Bewitched," "Married ... With Children," "Who's the Boss?" and "Mad About You," SPTI is kick-starting the next phase of its expansion in the region at NATPE with the Strix deal, Fitzgerald says.

He adds, "Not only are the TV people (from most Latin American territories) there, but also all the other emerging areas, including the mobile players and interactive."

Even the big British-based content providers are coming to NATPE with a Latin American agenda underscoring much of their activity. Granada International is a case in point as it continues to expand its Latin American operations under the guidance of Flavio Medeiros, senior sales executive for the entire region. "NATPE continues to be a key market for us in terms of Latin America. I have back-to-back meetings and super-busy days lined up."

He suggests that the strong euro now makes it extremely expensive to go to Europe, so most Latin Americans prefer to focus on doing business at NATPE and the Los Angeles Screenings in May. Medeiros says he and his team are gearing up for a very busy NATPE as the big Latin American buyers look for movies, dramas and formats to produce locally.
 
Brazil's Globo TV International is one of the biggest players at NATPE, with a slew of telenovelas, dramas, comedies, documentaries and other content to launch. International sales director Raphael Correa Netto says, "We see NATPE as a great opportunity for us to be in contact with our customers from all over the region who attend in very high numbers." At last year's NATPE, Globo TV launched its telenovela "Her Own Destiny" with deals placed with a dozen Latin American countries at NATPE. He says that NATPE represents the first port o' call of the year on its global sales trek.

Angel Orengo, senior vp Latin America distribution for SPTI, echoes the point: "NAPTE continues to be one of the most attended content events in our region, second only to the Los Angeles Screenings. It continues to attract most if not all of the key industry buyers and sellers."
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Arriving with an array of feature films, series, novelas and what he describes as "mobile opportunities," he says NATPE promises to be a vibrant sales happening: "Mobile and digital technologies are the new hot items in everyone's agenda. We are all working on capitalizing on our content and exploiting via the new technologies."

Orengo praises NATPE organizers' efforts to increase the focus on mobile and interactive content, as "information on this new topic will surely play a major role this year."

And don't totally count out the Europeans when it comes to NATPE's value as an international market, says Armando Nunez, president of CBS Paramount International Television. "No one market is automatically going to make or break our year. This business is now a yearlong process. And as far as Latin America is concerned, we have an office in Miami that is staffed and equipped to deal on a day-to-day basis with all of our content in Latin America and the Caribbean. But NATPE is an important part of that process for us because if there is a venue that our clients go to, then we will go there too."
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