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MIPDoc: Turning the whole licensing world upside down


- ZDF Enterprises vice-president Ralf Rückauer talks to Cineuropa about the partnership with the MIPDoc Co-Production Pitch competition and the changing distribution landscape

MIPDoc: Turning the whole licensing world upside down

The pre-MIPTV event MIPDoc will bring together about 500 companies, 700 participants and 400 buyers from 50 countries in Cannes on 11-12 April. Showcasing 1,500 programmes and projects, MIPDoc is the leading factual co-production event for buyers and commissioning editors. Besides screenings and conferences, a selection of promising projects will be presented at the MIPDoc Pitch competition, which is for the first time supported by ZDF Enterprises, the commercial arm of German public broadcaster ZDF.

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“We are always looking for interesting documentaries that fit into the categories of history, nature, animal documentary and science,” says Ralf Rückauer, vice-president of factual at ZDF Enterprises, which distributes the programmes from ZDF and other broadcasters internationally. “ZDF Enterprises’ support for the 2015 MIPDoc Co-Production Pitch takes the upcoming edition of this event to a whole new level,” MIPDoc director Lucy Smith points out. At the Pitch competition, five finalists will present their projects to the senior programmers in Cannes.

“There is a growing number of programmes on the market, but also more and more customers,” states Rückauer. In Germany, several new channels such as RTL NITRO, ZDFneo and ProSieben Maxx were launched recently. This development has had an impact on the documentary sector: namely, that films are more often bought in packages. Instead of looking for a unique discovery, the buyers are acquiring programmes to cover 50, 100 or even 200 hours. But there is also a trend towards big-budget documentaries that will be produced internationally. “I hope the European broadcasters are going to set up cooperative agreements in order to produce more projects in Europe.”

Meanwhile, the leading US TV stations are producing fewer scripted-reality and serial/soap formats. “We will see a small renaissance of more classical formats,” underlines Rückauer, who is convinced that the whole distribution landscape will change fundamentally. “We won’t sell single rights on a country-by-country basis anymore, but only in categories such as first-run, exclusivity for the second window as well as non-exclusivity. The whole licensing world will be turned upside down.”

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