The South African film, audiovisual and digital content industry players attend many international trade markets and shows, finding this an essential element of their business. Two of the most popular are in all probability the MIP's, MIPTV (April) and MIPCOM, (October) - in Cannes France, both of which attract a huge number of exhibiters and thousands of participants from all over the world.

With MIPTV 2008 just have taken place last month, In Focus spoke to Publishing Editor and Proprietor of Screen Africa, Angela van Schalkwyk, about the MIPS, why Screen Africa participates and what the benefits are.

In Focus: When did you started going to the MIPs and why?

AvS:
In 1993, Screen Africa identified the two markets, MIPTV and sister market MIPCOM, as the most important international television markets.  Firstly, these markets offered the opportunity to meet anyone who counted in the world of broadcast under one roof, over five intense days, during which one can discuss co-production, buying, selling, financing or distribution. Secondly at MIP one has the opportunity to meet and engage with key decision-makers in the TV, film, digital and audiovisual content, production and distribution industry. The scale of the MIP markets is huge with 1 500 companies exhibiting and close on 14 000 participants annually.

At that time, South Africans were just emerging from the apartheid period and Screen Africa believed it was a good time for the SA industry to be exposed to global production trends and developments. Screen Africa therefore decided to initiate an SA exhibition stand, with the assistance of the Department of Trade & Industry's exhibition scheme which supported individual exhibitors by paying 80% of their stand costs as well as contributing financially to the airfare and accommodation costs.

For just on three years, we managed to support the stand with the participation of eight to 10 companies at each of the two MIP markets. Screen Africa further supported this marketing effort with a special South African television production feature in our magazines, which were distributed at MIP markets. When the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) was established, it took over the official function of hosting the South African stand at MIP markets while Screen Africa continued to promote the industry via its magazine distribution at these 2 popular markets.

As Screen Africa has been distributed at both MIP markets since 1993, it means we've been in Cannes 30 times.  During this period, Screen Africa has become very well branded internationally but more importantly, everyone who attends MIP and has an interest in South Africa, knows they can obtain the information they need from picking up a Screen Africa magazine from the international trade magazine booth display area.


In Focus:
What is your involvement with the market here in South Africa?

AvS:
About four years ago, Reed Midem, which organises the MIP markets, decided to appoint international representatives for the MIP markets in various countries. Because of my and Screen Africa's long relationship with MIP markets, they approached Screen Africa to represent them in SA. As we believe that attending MIP markets is essential for any South African who aspires to producing programmes with international appeal and who wishes to work within a global environment, we were very happy to come on board as a MIP representative.


In Focus
: What benefits you as a publisher get from the markets?

AvS:
Screen Africa's reasons for attending MIP are to promote the South African industry to the international market via distribution of the Screen Africa magazines as well as to gather information on global content trends which are discussed at the conference sessions. During MIP, Screen Africa publishes two or three email newsletters from Cannes with reports on key global issues.


In Focus:
How did you find MIPTV this market this year better or worse than previous years?

AvS
: The wonder of MIP markets is that they never disappoint.  Each market offers participants the opportunity to engage with the international production community in a meaningful way and to gain information from just being there or from attending the very high-level conference sessions.


In Focus:
I see there were 87 visitors from South Africa - is this more or less than normal?

AvS:
This is more or less the average for MIPTV attendance. MIPCOM, coming as it does later in the year, attracts greater numbers of South Africans and the figure can rise to 140.


In Focus:
Do you see yourself continuing to visit this market in the foreseeable future?

AvS: Even though it is expensive for South Africans to pay the participation fee in Euros and to get to and stay in Cannes, I continue to believe it is a worthwhile investment with long term dividends attached. If people do not venture forth, they remain stuck in the same position. While the local television market may have benefits for some SA companies, it remains a really small market in which to operate and make a living.

In Focus: Were the newly licensed subscription services well represented?

AvS
: Pay-TV service provider MultiChoice has attended MIP markets for many years.  On Digital Media (ODM) we have been told was represented by an international content provider/ buyer and did not attend under the ODM name. Telkom Media was well represented. We could not ascertain whether the other subscription broadcast license holder, Walking On Water, attended MIPTV they may have had a representative there under another company name.

In Focus:
Thank you.