MIPTV: Four International TV Execs Feted by Market Organizers

Marion Edwards

Fox’s distribution topper Marion Edwards is among the medal of honor recipients.

Cannes is “impossibly glamorous, impossibly interesting.” That’s how Marion Edwards, one of the four recipients of the MIPTV Medaille d’honneur (Medal of Honor), described her first impression of the international TV market in Cannes some 25 years ago -- and how she still feels about being here on the Croisette every spring and fall for the global program sales bazaar.

The trophies are bestowed on “top executives who have made, and continue to make, a significant impact in their own national markets and beyond,” said Reed Midem president-CEO Paul Zilk in his introduction of the four honorees at a gala dinner at the Carlton Hotel on Wednesday.

The other recipients were Germany’s Tele Munchen chairman-owner Herbert Kloiber, Australia’s Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner and the CEO of Channel One Russia, Konstantin Ernst.

Zilk pointed to the diverse and eclectic backgrounds of the recipients, their long and varied history with the Cannes markets, and the finesse each has shown in managing the many changes that have rattled and realigned the international TV business over the past 40-odd years.

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Ernst, Zilk pointed out, introduced some years ago a provocative newsmag called Viewpoint into the Russia TV space, and just a few months ago was the director of the Sochi Olympics. Worner recently expanded the Seven operation to include production outposts in the U.S. and the U.K. Kloiber was instrumental in setting up international miniseries, bringing live classical music performances to European TV and, more recently, pioneering on-demand services in Germany. And Edwards, who is president of international television at Twentieth Century Fox, has adroitly overseen the distribution of News Corp properties as diverse as 24, The Simpsons and Glee, as well as championed the setting up of localized production units in key territories abroad.

A message from Edwards' boss, Mark Kaner (president of Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution), who was in Germany for a  board meeting of News Corp-controlled Sky Deutschland, read in part: “For my money, and Rupert’s, Marion is simply the best in the business.”

All four honorees made succinct, self-deprecating, evocative and appreciative comments from the podium during the dinner.

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Kloiber, who confided he hasn’t missed an MIP market in 45 years, conjured the wine-filled early years while working for the Teutonic media titan Leo Kirch -- “after 8 p.m. none of us knew what we were doing” -- and the somewhat more sober ones nowadays in which his son plays a key role in the company: “At night I can look at my son, who tells me what deals he has made that day -- and of course they’re deals I could have done better,” he joked.

For his part, Worner regaled the hundred-odd attendees with anecdotes about what it was like in the old days when “three big nights at La Chunga [a nightclub on the Croisette] was worse than chemotherapy!” He went on: “I had amazing things happen to me here and some of them I can even remember!”

This is the second year that Reed Midem has bestowed kudos on executives who have made substantial contributions to the international business. The MIPTV market wraps Thursday.