North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), the region which likes to think of itself as the electronic capital of Germany, yesterday unveiled details of plans for the Cologne Screenings (June 4-7), a new programming market to be held during the Cologne Conference.

The Cologne Screenings confirmed international participation from Pearson, Granada and the BBC and said it expected several of the US studios to commit within the coming weeks as well as major players from France and The Netherlands. In a novel constellation, participation from Germany spans both the public and private sectors and includes KirchGroup, CLT-Ufa, WDR and ZDF.

Former RTL CEO Helmut Thoma, who is advising NRW, said yesterday: "after 15 years of development we now have enough programmes and the quality to justify the development of these screenings."

Thoma admitted that the event's dates - which may change next year - are not convenient for the US studios, which only days before will have attended the Los Angeles Screenings. But he argued that they should make an effort to travel to the world's second largest TV market and that in doing so they will also be able to sell to East European broadcasters, which cannot afford the costs of the Los Angeles event.

Thoma said the cost of attending the Cologne Screenings, which will be held in the Hyatt Regency and a nearby hotel ship, will be approximately half that of exhibiting at MIP-TV or MIP-COM: "We are not trying to turn a profit from the screenings, but are doing this for the benefit of the film and TV sectors and to promote the region."