Amazia’s Intro: Asia TV Forum’s Own Tsunami

Yeow Hui Leng, project director of Reed Exhibitions, Singapore, which is organi-zing the eighth annual Asia Television Forum (ATF), is happy that “the 2007 [ATF] is one hundred percent sold out.” However, 2008 might well prove to be a different story, due to the threat from AMAZIA, a competing market to be held just prior to the ATF.

If the name doesn’t yet say much, its backers speak volumes: Reed Midem.

Buying and Selling
One of the exhibiting suites at the Shangri-la Hotel

Franz Caduc, director of New Business Develop-ment, Reed Midem (which, along with Reed Exhibitions, is part of Reed Business Group, meaning that two divisions of the same company are now competing for the same audience), and the man charged with responsibility for AMAZIA, Midem’s new Hong Kong event, insists it is entirely different from the Singapore-based ATF. “We spent two years researching the need for an event that recognizes convergence and it is definitely what the region wants,” he insisted.

For Reed Midem, AMAZIA represents their second attempt at infiltrating the Asian TV market, with the first being MIPAsia, which closed in 1999 after six runs.

Coincidentally, MIPAsia’s intro-duction in 1994 in Hong Kong, caused the closing of the established Asia Pacific Program Market, also in Singapore. But Caduc is confident that AMAZIA won’t share the fate of MIPAsia. “AMAZIA is a very different concept than MIPAsia,” said Caduc. “MIPAsia was purely television. AMAZIA has stronger ambitions — it will cover not only television, but music and games, as well. Besides,” he added, “the environment has changed tremendously since 1999 what with the digital revolution and all. We believe that today’s market is much bigger.”

Launched with the backing of such markets as MIPCOM and MIP-TV, AMAZIA will take place at the Hong Kong Convention Centre, November 17-20, 2008. In addition to the exhibition and conferences, AMAZIA will offer four days of platform showcases and networking services. AMAZIA will also host the Entertainment Leadership Summit, a two-day think-tank that will bring together visionary speakers from across the Asian and international entertainment industries.

Caduc went on to point out that, “In addition to people doing business in the traditional way, music, games, advertisers and digital players will all be integral to the market as the need to coordinate these different platforms grows.”

Caduc claimed that at MIPCOM alone “over 50 major sellers, including the U.K.’s All3Media, Spain’s RTVE, Italy’s Mondo TV, Denmark’s Danish Broadcasting Corporation and Israel’s Dori Media have already signed up, as have 30 top regional buyers.”

When asked by VideoAge whether both events could survive just a few weeks apart, ATF’s Leng replied, “They can for now, but we will see.”

TV France International has been a long-time supporter of the Singapore market, but managing director Mathieu Bejot is clear that, “in 2008 we will have to choose between the two events,” adding, “Asia represents no more than 10 percent of French content exports, so we cannot attend both. That’s certain.” Bejot said that no decision has yet been made as to which event will get the nod from TV France, but he is clearly unhappy about the situation, expressing a desire that, “Reed [Midem] get their act together and sort this out.”

Another ATF attendee unhappy about the clash is Sandra Carter, president, Sandra Carter Global. “Last year we had a fantastically successful time at the Asia TV Forum,” reported Carter. “In addition to many sales, we also launched three co-productions including Chef in a Sari, starring Mridula Vao Jakar, one of Asia’s top chefs.” Carter has already decided that two markets in the same region just weeks apart is one market too many, but she too has yet to decide which way to jump.

Despite the controversy, it’s business as usual at this year’s upcoming ATF, which will be held November 28-30 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.

“Over the years we have built a reputation as the leading programming market in Asia,” said Joyce Liong, senior Marketing manager of Reed Exhibitions. “This is the only place where international sellers can meet with Asian buyers to sell, buy and network.”

Indeed, while the participants list for this year’s upcoming event wasn’t yet finalized at press time, last year’s market drew the likes of CBS Paramount, Lionsgate and NBC Universal Television Distribution, to name just a few of the “heavyweights,” as Liong called them. Last year’s ATF also saw large contingents from Australia, France, Spain, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

“This clearly reflects our international appeal as the strategic business platform for Asia’s media and entertainment industry,” said Liong.

But in the face of new competition, will it be able to remain viable? “It’s too early to say,” said Anita Barnard, Sales manager at the U.K.’s 3DD.  While she’s discussed the possibility of attending the new market with her colleagues, nothing’s been decided yet. “At this moment, ATF is our key market in Asia.”

Added Guadalupe D’Agostino of RCTV International: “We’ve been at ATF since the beginning. We’ve found many good clients for us there.”

And Raphael Correa Netto of Brazil’s Globo TV International said, “ATF has been an important tool for us in building our brand and bringing our content to the Asian market.” It is possible that Globo TV will more than likely attend both ATF and AMAZIA next year to see which will better serve the firm’s needs, but, added Correa Netto, “For us, it’s important to be close to the buyers, so wherever the buyers are, that’s where we’ll be.”

AMAZIA director Caduc looked on the bright side of things: “The reaction to AMAZIA has been excellent.” Thus far, a number of Asian companies have voiced their support for the new event, including China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and the Shanghai Media Group. In addition, over 20 Chinese companies have also expressed interest in AMAZIA, including CCTV, Beijing TV, Greater China Media and Entertainment, Guangzhou Beauty Culture, Star-DTV and Films and China Movie Channel.

“AMAZIA is really very different from everything else on the market,” said Caduc. “I can’t speak for the ATF, but it’s a more traditional TV market with a focus on Southeast Asia. There was definitely a need for this new event.”

Meanwhile, ATF is forging ahead with its 2007 event, which will include a focus on sports content, with seminars such as: “Sports on Television: Latest Worldwide TV Trends,” “Sports Content Media Trends,” “Beijing 2008: Opportunities and Challenges” and “Sport Planning on TV in Asia.”

For 2008, the organizers have announced that the market will expand into the Suntec Centre, and will be held December 10 to December 12.

Last year ATF was at an all-time high in seller and buyer participation from a total of 49 countries. The Asian presence was strong, with 121 Asian sellers, including 25 from Singapore alone. Key agreements announced at the 2006 event include Buena Vista International Television-Asia Pacific’s statement that it had inked a multi-year movie video-on-demand IPTV agreement with Asia Pacific VoD channel ANYTIME and FremantleMedia Enterprises’ exclusive international deal with celebrity chef Kylie Kwong, in partnership with Sitting In Pictures and the Media Development Authority of Singapore, to produce nine 30-minute programs. “Asia TV Forum has been growing from strength to strength over the short seven years since its inception in 2000,” said ATF's Liong. “This is a clear signal of strong industry support.”