By Dom Serafini

About three months prior to the start of Asia TV Forum (ATF) in Singapore (December 2-4), VideoAge asked ATF’s General Manager Michelle Lim, for a preview of what the industry should expect before crossing the Pacific. Held at Singapore’s Suntec Convention Centre, ATF brings together international TV broadcasters and new media content providers to service programming sellers and Asia Pacific buyers. In 2008, more than 285 companies exhibited programs from more than 35 countries, an increase of 32 percent from 2007. Lim is from Reed Exhibitions (Singapore), part of Reed Elsevier, parent company of MIPCOM organizer, Reed Midem.

VideoAge International: How will this year’s ATF compare to last year?

Michelle Lim: This year, Asia Television Forum celebrates 10 years of content business in Asia. With strong support from the industry, we have come a long way in establishing ATF as the leading programming market of Asia. In this 10th edition, ATF will continue to strengthen its content with a compelling line-up of conferences with a key focus on formats and distribution of content on cross platforms. Despite the conservative economic outlook, ATF expects over 700 participating companies from 50 countries, and will be occupying a bigger hall in the convention centre. With Asia’s rising importance, we are expecting a strong and steady market with renewed seller participation from country groups including France, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and also a new Italian group representation joining us for the first time. New sellers include Discovery (Australia), HBO (U.S.) and Turner (Hong Kong S.A.R.). In line with the increasing profile of cross platform convergence, we will be unveiling an enhanced version of the “i-Screeners” this year. Introduced at the ATF last year, “i-Screeners” is a streaming portal that allows our sellers to promote their content in a user-friendly digital environment and facilitates on-demand viewing of trailers over broadband. Such digital extensions will deliver cost-savings and efficiencies to enhance the buy and sell activities of our buyers and sellers; as well as complement and strengthen the trade capabilities at ATF. To increase buyer loyalty and encourage more meetings between sellers and buyers, a new buyer rewards program, “Are you Game,” was also launched at ATF2008. This year, with both buyers and sellers already familiar with the program, we expect even greater participation and motivation towards achieving more meetings during the market.

VAI: Why is it important for distribution companies to be at the ATF?

ML: Asia represents one of the fastest growing consumers of media content in the world, with an increasing receptivity and appetite for different types of content across multiple platforms. As Asia’s leading programming market, ATF is well-positioned as a credible trading and learning platform bringing International sellers to Asian buyers. Being a proven International exhibition positioned primarily as the gateway into the Asia market, ATF is also an important niche extension after MIPCOM. In the last decade, ATF has played a key role in bringing the professionals of the media industry from the East and the West closer. With Asia rising, so will the importance of participation at ATF. ATF has grown in importance over the years to become the must-attend event on the media calendar for many who are serious and curious about Asia.

VAI: What kind of buying contingent can you assure?

ML: To date, we have confirmed attendance from buyers across Asia including Amuse Soft Entertainment Inc (Japan), Asia Television (Hong Kong), Hanaro- Broadband Media (Korea), KBS (Korea), Korea Telecom Corporation (Korea), MediaCorp (Singapore), Metropolitan TV (Malaysia), Mongol TV (Mongolia), MyTV (Cambodia), Natseven TV (Malaysia), NBC Universal Global Network (Singapore), SPE Networks Asia (Singapore), Trans World Associates Inc (Japan), PCCW (Hong Kong) Starhub (Singapore), Singapore Telecommunications (Singapore), Thai Public Broadcasting Services (Thailand), The Bangkok Entertainment (Thailand), TVBI (Hong Kong S.A.R.), Viacom 18 Media (India), The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) (Singapore), YOYO TV (Taiwan) and others.

VAI: What kind of “trimmings” (i.e., seminars, parties, etc.) will you be offering?

ML: The 10th edition of ATF will offer a strong line-up of conference content, including a powerful keynote on Formats by Rob Clark from FremantleMedia, followed by the ever-popular SuperPitch –– calling for the “Greatest Formats” idea. There will also be a strong lineup of panel speakers comprising of representatives from the various format providers such as 2waytraffic, activeTV, Armoza Formats, Endemol Group, BBC Worldwide Asia, and others sharing their experiences working with Asian broadcasters. In addition, the Motion Picture Association and the Singapore Media Academy will be addressing issues related to the distribution of content on cross platforms. Participants can also look forward to an array of networking events including the Opening Party, lunches and cocktails organized by key national groups, and of course, the annual Asian Television Awards.

VAI: Are you planning any awareness activity at MIPCOM?

ML: ATF will be exhibiting at Stand 06.32 at MIPCOM. We will be happy to meet and answer any enquiries at the stand.