DISCOP Istanbul Starts First Day Despite Security Fears


ISTANBUL: An early-morning mist over the Bosphorus welcomed distributors and buyers to the sixth edition of DISCOP Istanbul, which kicked off today amid security concerns following recent terrorist attacks in the Turkish city.

“Considering the current circumstances, we were prepared for a difficult market,” Patrick Zuchowicki, general manager of event organizer Basic Lead, tells World Screen. “But it seems that most, if not all, of the buyers who were expected to come did show up.”

As precautions, metal detectors and several security guards were placed at the entrance of the International Convention and Exhibition Center, where the market is being held, while the parties and galas usually scheduled for the event were nixed.

“Aside from the fact that we had to cancel all social events for security reasons, and aside from the fact that we did lose some exhibitors, I’m happy with the first day,” Zuchowicki says.

On the agenda for Tuesday was The Format Day, a busy schedule dedicated to sessions on the topic and a special pitching presentation, all co-organized with FRAPA. First up for early birds was a 9 a.m. talk titled Why Protecting Your IP Will Build Your Business, presented by FRAPA co-chairman Jan Salling.

The day progressed with a 10 a.m. panel dedicated to the CEE countries. Commenting on the importance of formats in the region were Izzet Pinto, the CEO of Global Agency; Amos Neumann, COO at Armoza Formats; Ratislav Durman, content development coordinator at Serbia’s RTV; Mehmet Cam, the programming manager at Turkey’s ATV, and Jacques Balducci, sales director at Eurodata TV, who began the session with a snapshot of the best-performing formats worldwide.

“Fiction is still leading the way,” Balducci said.

A lunchtime session then moved down the map to focus on MENA countries, with a panel made up of Anahita Kheder, the senior VP of SEEMEA for FremantleMedia International, UAE; Tárec Ghattás, the CEO of 6 Hats Entertainment; Bassam Ismael, TV director and producer of ERTU in Egypt; and Jonathan Tuovinen, formats and production director for NBCUniversal U.K.

Wrapping up the format-centric itinerary was a showcase billed as a presentation of “new, unexpected, compelling and innovative TV formats across all genres.” However, the session had to be abbreviated because “DISCOP did not receive many pitches,” said FRAPA’s Salling, who moderated the event. The abbreviated showcase also encouraged unscheduled participants to pitch their ideas.

“Raise your hands and you will be more than welcomed on stage,” Salling told the crowd.

Despite the low turnout, Zuchowicki says the session is an improvement over last year’s, which was cancelled after a panel of Arab judges refused to hear format pitches from Israeli companies.

“What happened last year was something that shouldn’t have happened,” Zuchowicki tells World Screen. “This year, we just made sure that whoever sponsored it didn’t come with any prejudice. We were taken off guard, but it’s something that will never happen again at DISCOP.”

The market continues tomorrow with a session on Driving Digitalization Via Satellite, presented by Eutelsat Communications, and The Next Programming Trend: TV Movies, moderated by a TRT TV movies executive producer. Later conferences will focus on the theme It’s a Small World, exploring new co-production developments, opportunities, guidelines, challenges and alternative cooperation strategies for countries with rising film and TV industries.