Teutonic Screenings Expanding Reach and Buyers’ Minds

Acquisition executives from all over the world will soon gather at Munich’s Le Méridien to view over 100 hours of new programs at the 34th annual German Screenings, to be held November 29 through December 3.
Last year, this itinerant winter event –– the oldest of such program fairs in Europe –– took place in Hamburg. Next year, the Screenings will be held in Austria. The event rotates around the home offices of the host/organizer, which changes every year but is always one of four key players. This time around, Munich-based distribution company Telepool has the honors.

Le Meridien Hotel
Meridien Hotel

The German Screenings were originally set up by ARD, Germany’s main state-owned broadcast organization. Later, the country’s other public broadcaster, ZDF, entered the picture, and the two broadcasters organized the Screenings in tandem. After ZDF pulled out in 2004, the Screenings took on its current form as a co-venture between four organizations: the aforementioned Telepool; Bonn-based Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international radio-TV service (its television headquarters are in Berlin); Austrian state broadcaster ORF, which is based in Vienna; and Cologne-based German United Distributors (GUD).

GUD was set up as an offshoot of ARD in 1997. ARD is comprised of nine independently run regional public radio and TV organizations. It was two of ARD’s leading member stations, WDR and NDR, which in 1997 spearheaded GUD in cooperation with Studio Hamburg and Bavaria Film Group. Earlier this year, another large ARD member, SWR, became a GUD shareholder. GUD also represents the program catalogues of ARD member stations HR and Radio Bremen.

In addition to representing some of ARD’s member stations, GUD is an umbrella marketing organization for three independently run companies: Bavaria Film Group’s Bavaria Media, Studio Hamburg and United Docs. The latter company specializes in documentaries and also handles GUD’s nature and wildlife programs.
These three interdependent companies cooperate for the German Screenings and use GUD’s stand during MIP-TV and MIPCOM. Still, they operate as independent sales entities. Munich’s Bavaria Media and Hamburg’s Studio Hamburg are tied as Germany’s second largest production and distribution entities. The country’s number one production company is RTL’s Fremantle Grundy UFA.

Telepool is a company formed by some of Germany’s other ARD regional public broadcasting member stations, including BR (Bavaria), MDR (central region), SR (Saarland region) SWR (southwest region) and Switzerland’s TV organizations, SRG and SSR. In addition to distributing programs from independent producers, Telepool has handled RTL’s library and all new RTL productions since 2007.

In view of the complex and intertwined German entertainment industry, the Screenings will also serve to better elucidate the various companies’ shared ownerships to participants and members of the press.

For example, even though Studio Hamburg is owned by ARD regional member station NDR, the same broadcasting organization was instrumental in the creation of GUD. United Docs was set up by ARD member stations NDR, SWR, WDR, HR and Radio Bremen. Similarly, Bavaria Film Group is owned by ARD member stations WDR, BR, SWR and MDR, as well as German national public broadcaster, ZDF. Of these, MDR and BR are also Telepool shareholders, and WDR and SWR are associated with GUD. Plus, Germany’s RTL, which owns FremantleMedia, Grundy and UFA, has assigned its library to Telepool for distribution.

More than 125 buyers from Europe, Japan, Brazil and the Middle East are expected to participate at this year’s German Screenings — some of whom didn’t attend MIPCOM. More than 50 programming directors, editors and distributors will be arriving from France (many from TF1 and M6), Italy (from both Mediaset and RAI), Norway (NRK), Sweden (SVT), Russia (TV Cultura) and Spain (TV3). Buyers are encouraged to attend and can register online at www.german-screenings.com, but they must pay their own travel and accommodation expenses.

Programs to be shown represent seven categories: feature films, TV movies, series, documentaries, wildlife, children and music. However, only GUD and Telepool will offer feature films, while Deutsche Welle will focus on documentaries, children’s and music programming. Many of the programs to be screened will feature English subtitles.

According to Helge Köhnen, director of Sales at Bavaria Media Distribution & Marketing, the screenings “are well timed for public broadcasters looking to purchase end-of-the-year programs since they have leftover money and airtime to fill.”

Buyers will individually screen Bavaria Media’s programs — which include the company’s MIPCOM catalogue and 50 of its newest titles presented after MIPCOM — and other distributors’ programming in more than 60 hotel rooms at the Le Méridien. These include the latest directors’ cuts and finished product, which will be available for on-demand viewing.

Among the planned evening networking events are museum visits, bowling games, ice skating and Christmas shopping.