A year on from the Lehman Brothers collapse that has been adopted by the media as the official start of the recession, everyone is looking for indicators that recovery is on its way. But if sentiment about MIPCOM 2009 is anything to go by, the optimists’ bet on Q4 2009 as the turning point for the entertainment industry will hardly have the bookmakers quaking in their boots. Content and format providers are hastily amending their slates for MIPCOM with broadcasters’ budgetary constraints in mind. “A lot of our shows are, well, expensive to produce,” says one format production executive. “So we’re taking some cheaper alternatives to Cannes.” Endemol’s CEO of Asian operations, Arjen van Mierlo, says that the company is also looking at smaller budget shows. “It’s good to differentiate our business and not just depend on our big shows and on the big networks.” And the downturn isn’t just affecting content buyers’ budgets, but those of content providers too. Some vendors are struggling for new titles to showcase at MIPCOM. Back at MIPTV 2009, AETN International’s vice president programming and production Michael Katz had said that budgets were not being cut but that the network was working on fewer projects. “We’re certainly not cancelling projects but some may be put on hold,” he said, which seems to translate as we’re not cutting budgets, we’re just spending less money. So in answer to the question, ‘Are we there yet?’, the recovery would appear to be just around the bend, just around the next corner, or Q1 2010 at the earliest.
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