Economy front and center at MIPCOM

Media execs unsure of impact on the industry

CANNES -- TV screens in the main entrance of the Palais des Festivals on Monday were tuned to minute-by-minute updates on rising international market indices, reflecting TV execs' need to keep on top of the economic story that everyone here is talking about.

But while European and U.S. markets rallied -- with the Dow closing up almost 1,000 points Monday -- media execs in Cannes were still cautious about the impact of the economic seesaws and how the market turbulence will affect the media industry.

"In full candor, it's a bit early to say what the impact is," said Ben Pyne, global distribution president at Disney-ABC Worldwide TV.

"We don't know yet what the impact is. We don't know what the impact on advertising market is going to be -- some markets will be hit worse than others," he said, speaking on an Entertainment Superpanel addressing trends in the global entertainment and media market

Reliance Big Entertainment president Rajesh Sawhney, whose company recently bankrolled the revamped DreamWorks, said he is confident that India's high-growth markets would weather the storm.

"I don't think any economy is going to be unaffected, but there is tremendous growth momentum in India and that growth is still intact," he said, speaking on the same panel.

"We may see a few tougher quarters, but although our financial systems are linked to the rest of the world, our banking system isn't exposed (to U.S. mortgage loans)," he added.

With pressure on advertising revenue being predicted to hit broadcasters in the run-up to the next reporting cycle, Google's European head of video partnerships Patrick Walker predicted a flight to online advertising.

"As things get tougher, advertisers who can deliver a measurable response will be more in demand," he said, touting YouTube's increasing viewer traction. "From a consumer perspective, our services are free. We've seen a real upturn in the number of people who watch comedy clips on YouTube."