GLOBAL BRIEFING: $60 Million in Deals Predicted for ATF

Buoyed by the rapidly expanding Asian multichannel business, the Asian Television Forum, which begins on November 28th in Singapore, should produce about $60 million in programming sales, up from $47 million last year and nearly double the $33 million in revenues from 2004, notes Seto Lok Yin, assistant CEO, of the Media Development Authority in Singapore.

While Hollywood movies remain popular in the region, the major broadcasters in many markets continue to focus on locally produced fare, making niche cable and satellite broadcasters, formats, co-productions and on demand platforms increasingly important, several distributors notes.

“While multichannel penetration remains low, the region is growing rapidly and over the last year newer technologies, particularly VOD in places like Korea, have emerged, with is very positive news for content distributors,” notes James Ross, regional director for Granada International.

Besides straight program sales Granada has also done VOD deals in such markets Taiwan and Korea and has sold formats about 10 major broadcasters, Ross notes. He adds that they are close to major format deal in China.

Ross also sees strong demand for program sales in India, where a number of new entertainment channels are preparing to launch.

“We’ve seen a great influx of on demand platforms in the region that allow people to go deeper into our film library,” adds MGM Worldwide TV Co-President Gary Marenzi. “Piracy has been so rampant in many parts of Asia so it’s nice to see there are legitimate alternatives emerging for our product.”

Co-productions for factual programs and animation are also growing in importance. In Singapore the Media Development Authority (MDA) provides about $S30 million to $S40 million (or about $25 million) for co-productions, note Seto. That seed money produces about $3 to $5 in production for every $1 the MDA puts up, Seto estimates.

The funding and increasingly sophisticated talent base “has made Singapore a gateway to Asia” for co-productions, argues Ellen Windemuth, managing director, of the factual producer Off The Fence.

To capitalize on that potential, her company has opened an office in Singapore.

Rainbow’s VOOM has a $20 million co-production deal with the MDA, with each party contributing half the funding for about 70 hours of HDTV programming, notes Gregory Ang, an independent producer and consultant. Ang’s GANG TV represents VOOM in Asia for co-productions, channel launches and program sales.

The Asian Television Forum, which runs from November 28th to November 30th, is part of the Asian Media Forum, which runs from November 16th to December 4th and includes a series of nine trade events for distributors, producers and co-producers.

This year for the first time, the conferences will highlight the region’s growing importance as a producer of factual programming with Asian Factual Forum, running from November 25th to the 27th.

Overall, about 5,400 executives are expected to attend, up 16% from last year, Seto estimates.