My 2¢: An open letter to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco

To HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Monsignor:

Before meeting you, I had the pleasure of meeting your late father, Prince Rainier, and your late mother, Princess Grace; just pointing out how far back my relationship goes with Monaco and, in particular, with the Monte Carlo TV Festival.

And that is what this open letter is all about: The illustrious Monte Carlo TV Festival and Market. Indeed, it was one helluva of a market. I know, the Principality relished its cultural aspects, but for us in the nitty-gritty part of the industry, the market (better still: The Market, with a capital M) was one of the best world television events.

Unfortunately, you were running an operation with “antiquated elements” that were practically imposed upon you. You managed to aptly keep it afloat longer than anyone else could have done, under those unfavorable circumstances.

I’m sure you remember how the “old guard” vilified me when VideoAge used to report early signs of problems. Those reports did not represent our opinions, mind you, but those of the international TV industry. Throughout its life, VideoAge has been like a mirror that faithfully reflected the industry’s mood and outlook, but the old guard presented us to you as “ungrateful” because we were too “critical” (meaning, we were pointing out the cracks that, later, caused the Market to collapse).

We were striving for a major overhaul and new strategy for the Market: something that never came about. What, ultimately came was a devastating blow: the closing of the Market. But it was the most reasonable thing to do in view of the circumstances.

Now, however, I see a renaissance. The old guard has mercifully retired. You’re in full control, and the people you appointed at various levels seem to be capable, forward thinking and ready to face new challenges. At this point, the thought of revitalizing the Monte Carlo Market should no longer be taboo.

While the TV Festival should definitely keep its name, tradition and association with the Market, this latter aspect should move several notches and, by leveraging the new technologies, be called “The Monte Carlo Screenings.”

Here’s how it could work:
*The dates should still be in mid-February –– as they originally were –– and take place over no more than three full days; meaning, registration and set-up on Sunday, the Screenings taking place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday would be reserved for packing.

*The Screenings should be held in a hotel suite environment, preferably on one floor of the Grand Hotel. In order to make the room configuration more fair, multiple suites should be rented only at the ends of the corridors.

* Multiple exhibitors, if so desired, could share rooms. Exhibitors without suites should be allowed to rent a screening desk on the ground floor.

* Participants with only badges should have meeting places with receptionist services.
Daily passes should also be issued.

*Some 100 key international buyers should be invited all expenses-paid (hotel accommodations and meal coupons). The Monte Carlo Screenings should remain small and target only European buyers.

*Each exhibitor should be offered, as part of the registration package, a 10-minute promotional window on DVDs that the Market distributes to all buyers. The exhibitors could use their 10-minute spaces as they see fit (e.g., to promote their shows or their companies, or both).

*The Market organizer should provide DVD screening rooms for buyers to sample the audiovisual fare.
*The market Guide should include photos of participants. The industry has grown and so many new entrants are now part of the TV industry that it’s difficult to recognize each other.

*During the opening party (on Sunday) and the closing party (on Wednesday), no other private or public parties should be allowed.

*Seminars should not be held during key business hours, but only in the early morning hours, before the floor opens (at 10:00 AM) and the key speakers relegated to the last day. Panelists should only be buyers.

As you can see, I don’t have earth-shattering suggestions. Just the basics. And don’t think that NATPE or MIP-TV organizers would be upset. To the contrary, Monaco would provide a necessary release valve for them. You see, NATPE needs a focus, which could come from concentrating on the Latin, Canadian, U.S. and Asian markets. By focusing on Europe, the Monte Carlo Screenings would prevent NATPE from being stretched too thin.

MIP-TV could benefit too, since it is becoming too vast and dispersed, and risks losing its traditional effectiveness. By releasing some of the pressure to Monte Carlo, MIP-TV could regain its core business structure.

Dom Serafini