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Rose d'Or TV festival set to bloom

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation's production of The Magic Flute is up for an award Keystone

Europe's oldest television festival, the Rose d'Or (Golden Rose) opens in the central Swiss city of Lucerne on Friday, with a record 402 entries this year.

This content was published on May 2, 2008 - 08:35

This is good news for the event, which has been trying to regain momentum since moving from French-speaking Montreux in 2004. The next big challenge is to break into the United States market.

The five-day festival aims to attract "the best of the year's new entertainment and television programming" and gives out awards in eight categories, including comedy, drama, and reality. It also provides a platform for international television producers to check out new programmes.

Of the 402 entries, 75 programmes from 19 countries have been nominated. A Swiss entry is up for a prize in the performing arts section.

The festival was started 47 years ago in Montreux by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation -swissinfo's parent company - at a time when private television chains did not yet exist.

"At that time the small public broadcasters had a problem because they did not have enough programmes, especially during the summer, so they founded the Rose d'Or in the spring to buy programmes from other countries," festival director Urban Frye told swissinfo.

The annual festival gained in strength – with a slight dip after its move to Lucerne - adding categories such as reality as the television landscape changed.

Britain leads way

Traditionally Britain is well represented, and this year it heads the list with 31 nominations. Swiss neighbour Germany has eight, as does the Netherlands. Further afield nominations come from Japan, Australia, and South Africa.

Switzerland has one nomination for its production of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute which was broadcast earlier this year on national television on two channels simultaneously – one showing the stage performance and the other offering a peek behind the scenes.

"The jury was very impressed by this idea so I think they have very good chance of winning a Rose D'Or," said Frye.

One major market that has so far eluded the festival is the US, although the American Ben Silverman - co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios - will receive this year's honorary Rose d'Or.

Frye said that he was working on the US market. "I got the message that a lot of US producers didn't even know that the Rose d'Or existed," he said.

Some of the big producers will be coming over this time, but Frye expects the real results of his promotional work there to come next year.

Frye said that Lucerne's advantage was it was not a big event like Cannes, a time-pressed event attended by more than 15,000 international producers.

A type of WEF

"I always say the Rose d'Or is like the World Economic Forum in Davos in Lucerne," he told swissinfo.

"Important producers can meet in a very friendly atmosphere in this breathtaking natural environment and we are doing lot of social events so they really can find the time to meet each other and discuss."

After the upheaval of the recent years – the festival tried to broaden its appeal, but has since moved back to catering for industry clientele – Frye says the outlook is positive.

"The first goal was last year to hold onto the festival then to get the big producers back, which is what we have now," he said.

"Next year we will have a little bit more glamour, some stars from different series and soaps, and in 2010 we can celebrate the 50th anniversary which we are still preparing behind the scenes."

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson

Festival facts

The 48th Rose d'Or (Golden Rose) will take place from May 2-6, 2008 in Lucerne.

Keira Chaplin, granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, will be in Lucerne to present the award for Best Entertainer.

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo's parent company, is one of the partners of the festival.

Award categories
Golden Rose will be awarded in each of the following categories:
– Comedy
– Sitcom
– Drama
– Entertainment
– Reality
– Game Show
– Performing Arts
– Arts Documentary

Rose d'Or Special Prizes 2008:
– Best of 2008
– Best Entertainer
– Honorary Prize

Past Honorary Rose recipients include: Benny Hill, Quincy Jones, Monty Python, John de Mol, Herb Granath, Ricky Gervais, and Ben Elton in 2007.

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