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MIPCOM 2012: Cartoon Network Focuses on 'Unique Voices' in Digital Age

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The Turner channel is looking for "projects and pitches that make us a little uncomfortable," says Stuart Snyder, president of Turner Animation.

It’s not that kids have fundamentally changed, but tech gizmos have emphatically altered their behavior in the past 20 years. “Kids are inhaling technology,” said Stuart Snyder, the president-COO of Turner Animation, in breezy – and sometimes self-deprecating -- remarks to a standing-room-only crowd on the first day of Mip Junior in Cannes Saturday. “They even have BYOD parties nowadays,” he said, scanning the room to see if all the international attendees “got it.”

Largely they did. Since the attendees at the two-day confab are all in the business of producing or distributing content to young people they know that devices, of all sizes and capabilities, are nowadays what shapes children’s lives.

“Kids today are very family-focused, they still worry about school, being bullied, and being liked, they still do chores and play with their friends, but technology is moving faster than ever, and impacting the lifestyle of kids.”

As for how to stay ahead of kids’ interests and keep them tuned to his cabler, the Cartoon Network, Snyder said it’s all about finding unique voices, from wherever. “We look at projects and pitches that make us a little uncomfortable,’ he explained. “If one does, we think we’ve got something.”

Like the Mip Junior confab itself, Cartoon Network is celebrating its 20th anniversary on the air. Snyder pointed out that the cabler has gone from 2 million households at launch to a global audience of 367 million households, delivered in 26 languages across 187 countries. He was also quick to say that the DNA of the channel, from The Jetsons, to Gumballs, to the Web-originated Annoying Orange, includes “the maverick spirit of (founder) Ted Turner” and that despite all the changes in the biz, and all the competition, the goal is to remain true to the irreverent, whimsical tone at start-up.

As to a question about the dreary economy, Snyder admitted the advertising marketplace was challenged, but was quick to point out that maximizing other revenue streams was the response, including developing monetizable apps for various devices.

In other news from Mip Junior, the jury in the International Pitch competition awarded its top prize to a project about yoga for kids from Columbia called “Oommm-Mooo,” which was described as a “totally fresh concept.”