“Merry Kitschmas” wrote the Asian edition of the Financial Times recently. It wasn’t referring to Singapore or to how people in Singapore celebrate the Christmas holidays because they don’t for the most part.

But it could have been attributed to the pervasive Christmas carols, which are obsessively heard not only at malls, but also in almost every Asian restaurant throughout the city.

Yet the mood at the Singapore’s Sands Exposition Center, where the 16th annual Asia TV Forum (ATF) took place, was more business and less celebratory; no Christmas carols to be heard and no Christmas trees to be seen. There was only the cacophony of people talking, walking and greeting each other, which, at times, sounded like people singing the blues. In the evening, those blues most likely turned into “slings,” the famous Singaporean cocktail drink.

Later, on the floor, some European and Latin American exhibitors expressed frustration by the fact that many Asian buyers didn’t bother to answers their e-mail or telephone calls requesting meeting appointments at ATF.

Perhaps, as explained by Sonia Fleck of Singapore-based Bomanbridge Media, this is another indication that personal relationships are still important, especially in Asia. It must be added that markets such as ATF are essential to establish them.

North Americans, on the other hand were generally happy with the event. “It was a great market for us. A lot more activity than last year. The market seems to be growing nicely,” said Starz’s Todd Bartoo.

Similarly, Latin American exhibitors who came with formats to license were generally well compensated.

The conferences, held on the fourth floor of the Sands, began on December 1, a day before the market opened on the fifth floor with 79 individual stands, 16 pavilions and nine hospitality suites rented by U.S. studios and the BBC. All in all, sellers came from 39 countries. With 10 countries, Europe put on a good show, sort of a resurgence compared to previous editions. On the other hand, the number of countries representing the Americas shrunk to seven.

As expected, with 63 companies, the bulk of participating sellers came from Singapore, followed by Japan (52) and South Korea (49), although most of those companies were housed in one of the 16 pavilions set up by 10 countries.

With 12 participating countries, Asia represented the largest number of territories confirming what Angeline Poh of Singapore’s Media Development Authority, said in a VideoAge interview that ATF is now an intra-Asian trading market.

Looking at the ATF conference guide (this year a separate booklet from the event directory), the first thing noted is the increased number of conferences and how few were related to industry’s topics outside Asia.

Of the 29 countries that sent buyers to ATF, 16 were Asian, mostly from Singapore (38 companies), followed by Indonesia (28), Taiwan and South Korea (with 24 each), China (23), Thailand (16) and Vietnam (14).

However, in order to give it a wider international appeal, ATF is now the umbrella for four additional events: The Asian Television Awards, ScreenSingapore, Digital Matters and Singapore International Film Festival, which is ended on December 6, two days after the conclusion of ATF.

A more comprehensive ATF review will be featured in VideoAge’s NATPE Issue.

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