Asia’s willingness to embrace new technologies such as mobile platforms is a factor that sets it apart from other regions, where the technology has yet to be fully adopted. According to a recent study by Multimedia Intelligence, Asia has the vast majority of mobile television subscribers. Christopher Chia, CEO of Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) and company consider the “prospects for growth in the mobile TV market to be very promising.” This forward-thinking trend and others will be reflected at the upcoming ninth annual Asia TV Forum (ATF), which will be held in Singapore.

This year, ATF will take place December 10-12 at the Suntec Centre — a new venue, and a larger one — which was necessary to house the growing number of attendees. While past editions of the market have been suite-based at the Shangri-La hotel, ATF 2008 will take on a more typical conference style.

“We outgrew the maximum capacity at the [hotel], thus the need to move into a bigger venue,” said Yeow Hui Leng, Project director for Reed Exhibitions Singapore. “The change to a more open exhibition format is based on industry surveys. More clients have been telling us they would like to do the exhibition format for a change and we take their feedback [into account]. Suntec addresses both issues of capacity and the desire for a more open concept.” In addition, Suntec is more centrally located than the Shangri-La, and is in close proximity to a number of hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and clubs.

“I really like the idea of it being more of a convention than a suite-based event,” said Sabrina Toledo, vice president, Sales and Marketing for Norwalk, Connecticut-based CABLEready. “It increases the chance of walk-by clients. Also, with a suite-based convention, it’s a bit of a challenge to walk into a suite and not feel like you’re interrupting — especially in the Asian culture, where respect is so important.”

In addition to meeting with clients and presenting a slate of children’s programming, Patrick Elmendorff, managing director of Munich-based Studio100 Media, plans on making sure his firm’s presence is felt in Singapore. “Studio100 has been in operation for just over a year and in that time, the company has grown significantly,” said Elmendorff. “With the recent acquisition of EM.Entertainment, we would like to present the new company as we now boast an extensive library of new programming.” In addition, added Elmendorff: “ATF is important to us as it’s a young and vibrant market which continues to grow each year. It gives us the opportunity to meet with clients from all over the region, including Southeast Asia and India.”

Although the Asia TV Forum (ATF) is the only “show in town,” for some companies, it is not yet the “best show” in town. In addition to difficulties dealing with Asian program buyers, the market suffers from a need for top-level acquisition executives. Reportedly, the ATF has not yet been able to offer exhibition companies the kind of support mechanism that a difficult territory, such as Asia, would require. For this reason, companies that are not participating in ATF are embarking on a more grueling, if more rewarding, market by market visit. It has been pointed out that DISCOP, the market for Central and Eastern Europe, faced the same problems, and that only time was able to resolve that market’s main issues.

While numbers for the 2008 event are still up in the air, last year’s ATF drew 4,700 people from 50 countries, with strong representation from Australia, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea and Taiwan. Estimated deals concluded as a result of the 2007 event increased to $62.7 million, up from $47.1 million in 2006. Attendance is expected to be similar this year.

In addition to the usual wheeling and dealing, ATF participants can look forward to keynotes from Shine Group and Electronic Arts. A full day seminar in conjunction with the U.S. Motion Picture Association will address Asia’s growing piracy problem and an awards ceremony will bring the three-day event to a close.

This story was jointly written by Leah Hochbaum Rosner and Erin Somers.

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