Forum Brasil To Tackle Latin America Mis-cooperation

By Maria Zuppello

This year, the 10th annual Forum Brasil, which is considered to be one of the major TV trade events for the Latin American TV industry, will take place at the Transamerica Expo Center in São Paulo, a new venue located just a stone’s throw away from the previous one (the Frei Caneca Exhibition Center). The new venue offers more facilities and greater convenience.

Forum Brazil

For three days, from June 3-5, 2009, more than 1,200 delegates from 30 countries will gather to discuss creative and economic matters related to Brazilian and Latin American television. This year’s Forum hosts the first-ever summit meeting of television stations from Mercosur’s associated countries (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela,) as well as special guests from Central America and Mexico. According to Forum Brasil’s André Mermelstein, “one of the Forum’s goals is to improve relationships among Latin American TV channels. Unbelievable as it seems, they don’t do anything together.”

The Mercosur Summit is particularly important considering Brazil and Spanish-speaking Latin America have emerged as new strategic trade markets despite the current decline in global TV expenditures.
“The recession is global,” said Mermelstein, “but the Brazilian economy has been less affected. Up until today, Brazil’s TV market did not show any problem. What now needs to be tackled is the difficulty of co-producing with other countries.” This holds true despite the fact that Brazil has production treaties with more than a dozen countries, including Canada, France and more recently, India, which have resulted in approximately 20 co-productions per year.

The creation of Brazil’s Audiovisual Industry Fund is also significant at this time. The federal fund is set to invest the equivalent of some US$40 million over the course of 2009. The money will go towards the production of independent TV programs, as well as to the production and distribution of theatrical movies. Project selection will be based mainly on track record: producers whose previous projects have performed well in commercial terms are the most likely to receive funding. Other criteria include the project’s underlying message, its distribution strength, and qualified partners.

“Forum Brasil is the most important TV forum in [Brazil],” said Denise Gomes, an executive producer for São Paulo’s BossaNovaFilms. “We participate every year with excellent results not only in terms of international contacts but also for the good domestic market outcome. The pitching sessions offer a great opportunity for us.”

With the help of tax incentives provided by the federal Audiovisual Law, it has now been made more appealing for international TV networks to invest in local Brazilian productions. São Paulo-based production company Moonshot, for example, will produce a series for Sony’s AXN this year, as well as a second season of the series 9mm: São Paulo for Fox. Other networks, such as Discovery, Discovery Kids and Nickelodeon, are also planning to produce in Brazil. International production companies like Endemol are preparing to branch out into Brazil. Endemol will use Action Media, its local participation TV operation, to sell its local and international formats to Brazilian broadcasters. Globo, however, will continue to have priority in choosing formats via Endemol Globo — the group’s 50/50 joint venture with Endemol.

More than 40 Brazilian companies will attend this year’s Forum Brasil, including Globo, Brazil’s top television group and one important partner of Forum Brasil. “Like last year, Forum Brasil will be a big chance to focus on the international market,” said Globo International Sales director Raphael Correa Netto.
Brazil’s second largest TV network, Record TV, won’t be participating as an official sponsor, but a handful of its producers and executives will still attend the forum to keep abreast of the latest industry news.

On the other hand, Brazilian TV network Bandeirantes is planning a big presence, and will present its 2008 hits, including documentaries, special reports, music and drama series, such as Agua na boca, a Paris-based romantic comedy about love and culinary pleasure, and Dance Dance Dance, a love story set against the backdrop of music and dance.

“We will have a stand to showcase our programs and to sell them all over the world,” said Bandeirantes exec Helena Perli. “Brazil is very important in the international TV arena. Like the United States, Brazil is a melting pot, which represents a cultural plus.”

Forum Brasil will also host a meeting for TV stations from Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa and Asia, as well as Portugal itself, to debate common issues. The first such meeting, held during the Forum’s 2008 edition, gave rise to several programming and technology deals. Because of that meeting, Brazil will have, for the first time, two TV correspondents in Africa.

Apart from the official program of conferences, there will be “30 Minutes With” sessions with some of the most well known producers in the world and pitching sessions about turning documentaries, animation and fiction into successful productions.

A guided tour of Brazil’s largest production and TV studios, Globo and Mixer, will also be offered.
Finally, Telefônica de Espanha, Embratel (Telmex) and Oi will participate in Forum Brasil to present and discuss their missions and evaluate partnerships for creating new video content for cellular phones.