Mifed organisers confirmed yesterday (ed Wed 12) that they will offer a package of subsidies and incentives to buyers and sellers in an effort to retain business (see ScreenDaily.com, Nov 12).

"We will be providing some Euros 5m in the form of incentives to market participants next year," said Carlo Bassi, president of Fiera Milano International (FMI). It is understood that these could involve underwriting the cost of flights and hotels for both buyers and sellers who remain loyal to the Milan event. The market is offering discounts of up to 20% for early registrants and even for late-comers guaranteed to freeze service and exhibition costs at this year's levels. "And by 2005 we will have invested an additional Euros 8m-10m in new facilities, primarily screening rooms, bringing to a total of Euros13m-15m the value of our new investment," said Bassi.

Bassi admitted that the investment is a direct reaction to the competition from the rival autumn AFM, and said that Mifed is officially forecasting a 20% drop in attendance for next year's event (Oct 31-Nov 4, 2004). Although the two events overlap by two days Bassi said: "We hope to be able to retain at Mifed all the most important buyers and sellers. It seems reasonable to expect that AFM will also be smaller than usual."

He rejected the notion that next autumn's rival markets would take on different functions, Mifed specialising perhaps in art-house titles or European fare, and an AFM concentrating on more US and commercial product. "I don't think it is possible to differentiate. The issues are common to the whole marketplace."

Bassi said that all organised markets face similar issues. "If we accept the notion that only 30%-40% of all film sales are conducted at markets - and I'm not sure that those figures are right - then Berlin, Cannes, Mifed and AFM all need to rethink their strategies and come up with a common point of view. Would it not be better that the sums of money we are talking about be invested together'"