By Leah Hochbaum

Held not too long after the AFM in Santa Monica, CA, and, before that, MIPCOM in Cannes, France, the Asia TV Forum (ATF), which takes place November 29 to December 1 at Singapore’s Shangri-La Hotel, does for Asia TV what other markets do for the rest of the world — seals deals.

“Asia TV Forum is a much smaller market than MIPCOM,” said Michelle Wasserman, head of Argentina-based Telefe’s Sales team. “ATF is mainly focused on Asian demand, while MIPCOM’s focus is on Europe, with the participation of Latin American, African, Middle Eastern and even Asian buyers.”

Wasserman acknowledged that an Asian market probably isn’t the most appropriate place for a telenovela distributor like Telefe, but stressed that she and the rest of her Telefe team flew out to Singapore with the goal of strengthening contacts, adding new ones and “increasing our presence in the Asian territory — which is exactly the focus of the market,” she said, before adding that “new sales have opened roads for our productions.” Wasserman also feels that video-on-demand, home video and mobile content are important areas to be exploited in the burgeoning Asian market.

Xavier Aristimuno, Tepuy’s exclusive agent for Asia, feels differently, and cited his firm’s “pan-regionally produced television content that has proven to be quite successful worldwide, especially in Asia.” Aristimuno hopes ATF will help Tepuy “continue to feel the pulse of the Asian market” by assisting the firm in understanding its customers’ needs, evaluating the latest trends and ideas, sharing its views on the industry at large and “developing and consolidating more and better business between our media group and leading regional broadcasters.”

In fact, Tepuy sees the market as a key event to attend each year, having had a presence at ATF even years ago when it was called Television Asia.

“Singapore is a wonderful and practical place to meet customers in between MIPCOM and NATPE and it is convenient for many regional broadcasters to travel to,” said Aristimuno.

Granada International’s James Ross concurred. “Asia is a key part of our international activity,” said Ross, who runs the company’s new Hong Kong office, which recently opened to better serve Granada’s clients in the region. “We have regular contact with our buyers throughout the year, but attending a regional market gives us all the opportunity to be together at one time and screen promos and programs together.”

Like Telefe’s Wasserman, Ross opined that new media opportunities are ultimately what will bring buyers and distributors out in droves to ATF.

“We have some exceptional new programming which we believe will be of interest to the Asian market. However, we are also attending Asia TV Forum to grow and cement relationships with partners in Asia across all media sectors, and are particularly excited about the opportunities within new media, including VoD, mobile and IPTV in the region.”

In addition to attending the market, Ross will speak as part of the Asia Television Forum Super Pitch Panel, which aims to give producers in Asia “a straightforward and frank assessment of their programming ideas with additional feedback on how they might work internationally,” said Ross.

A full report on the Asia TV Forum will be published in VideoAge International’s January 2007 issue.