MIPTV's environmental initiative gets serious


Don't expect much mincing of words during MIPTVs "Green TV" edition of conferences this year.

Reed Midem is now in the second year of its Going Green environmental initiative, and the lineup of no-holds-barred speakers -- among them France's "Earth From Above" (2004) docu producer and photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, and Live Earth founder and Control Room CEO Kevin Wall -- is clearly aimed at calling the media industry to action.

Reed Midem CEO Paul Zilk confesses he's spent more than a few sobering moments thinking about the consequences of climate change. "If you believe that climate change is bringing troubles that will require a massive societal response, the global entertainment community is powerfully placed to think and act green as needed." Not everyone is fully convinced or engaged, he admits, but "alternative views can serve to heighten awareness and lead to action."

Arthus-Bertrand took home the first MIPTV Green World Award in 2007 but is back again as part of a Green TV debate titled "TV Production: How to Make It Green." He says he'll unveil a blueprint for making TV docu production carbon neutral by linking up local broadcasters around the globe. "It's a first step. I would, of course, prefer carbon prevention altogether," he says.

A few media outfits, among them the BBC, 20th Century Fox TV, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Brazil's Globo TV, have already taken steps to drastically reduce their carbon footprints. Planning and social projects director Albert Alcouloumbre says Globo TV has been injecting green themes into its telenovelas and miniseries since 1974. The miniseries "Amazonia," about activist and environmentalist Chico Mendes, is among the pack of "eco-sodes" and "eco-docs" it is bringing to Cannes.

While the global impact of 2006's "An Inconvenient Truth," featuring Al Gore, made funding green initiatives easier, Wall points out that it's not just about commissions by broadcasters: Advertisers and sponsors are also eager to back eco programming and earn their green credentials. "Consumers want to know that corporations are walking the walk and demonstrating a commitment to eco-friendly business practices, and they are making purchasing decisions based on that information," Wall says.

De Rothschild, who will be talking up "Nick's Big Green Thing," Nickelodeon U.K.'s multimedia environmental initiative, during his "TV's Big Green Adventure" keynote, confesses he worries about "green things."

"Planet-friendly behavior needs to become a habit, not just be about 'this green thing' you are doing," he says. "This is an industry about storytelling. If (the industry) wants to engage today's technologically savvy young audiences, it needs to rethink how those stories are told."