By Leah Hochbaum Rosner

The Asia Television Forum (ATF) opens this week, and while talk of next year’s similarly themed Reed Midem-backed AMAZIA market has some ATF insiders worried, it’s business as usual for attendees of this year’s eighth annual event.

“Asia is a key region for us,” said Lionel Marty, president of Worldwide Distribution for Taffy Entertainment, which opened a Shanghai office last year in order to facilitate Taffy’s business in the Asian region. “It’s great that [Asian] broadcasters are taking note of our commitment to working closely with them,” he said.

Held November 28-30 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, ATF is organized by Reed Exhibitions, which, along with Reed Midem (organizers of AMAZIA), is part of the Reed Business Group, which means that two divisions of the same company are now competing for the same audience. The 2007 ATF event boasts an impressive conference slate, including an opening address titled “What is Content Protection,” which will aim to explain how to shield content while still maintaining a healthy, yet competitive, distribution market. Other seminars include a Mobile TV Forum with topics such as a keynote on “Convergence Beyond Internet, Media and Telecoms: The Emergence of the Seventh of the Mass Media” and a panel on “Telco, Content Owners, Broadcasters: Friend or Foe?” In addition, the market will feature 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,” which will advise attendees on how to manage different audience and advertiser preferences in different regions.

Next year, in order to combat the daunting AMAZIA, ATF has already announced plans to expand into Singapore’s Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre. “Throughout the years, we have made strategic changes to keep us relevant with industry developments,” said Michelle Lim, general manager of Reed Exhibitions. “To meet demands for increased space, ATF will be moving to Suntec in 2008, where we will be offering a suite-style exhibition concept.” Lim went on to say that she’s confident that the ATF will continue to be a success, noting that over 45 percent of the 2008 space has already sold out. “ATF has proven itself again and again for the past seven years,” she said. “It is an event created by the industry, for the industry.”

Although there’s no way to estimate how many people will be on hand for what might very well be the ATF’s last hurrah should AMAZIA gain strength, last year’s ATF came to a close with an estimated U.S.$47.1 million worth of sales concluded at the market, surpassing the previous year’s U.S.$33 million. The market 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. This year, market growth of more than 10 percent is expected. It remains to be seen if next year’s ATF will show continued growth… or if AMAZIA’s very existence deals it a deathblow.