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Market turnaround?

Mip Asia begins, looks to economic rebirth

SINGAPORE — The sixth edition of the Mip Asia TV market kicks off today, with host Reed Midem Organization (RMO) hoping that, after the decline in attendance brought on by the recent economic woes of the region, 1999 will mark a turnaround year.

As stand builders went about their business in the high-tech and (mercifully) air-conditioned Singapore Intl. Convention and Exhibition Center on Tuesday, there were already signs that the Asian economic recovery is affecting this year’s market.

300 new buyers

While the number of exhibiting companies remains practically identical to last year, with 253 in town, the 624 buyers registered reps an 18% rise on 1998. What’s more, Reed Midem has attracted no fewer than 300 new buyers to the event, 56 of which have come from China, 36 from South Korea.

Reed Midem chairman Xavier Roy has been considering the future of Mip Asia and a decision whether or not to continue with the event is expected early next year. Logically, if the buyers reach for their wallets this week, that should encourage more sales companies to attend in the future.

“We feel we have brought all the elements together,” Roy told Daily Variety. “Now it’s up to people to do business.”

Docu dilemma

Mip Asia offered execs a pre-opening conference Tuesday devoted to the tricky problem of exporting Asian docus beyond the region.

Even such heavyweights as Japan’s NHK haven’t found it easy to crack the “Western” market. Kagari Tajima, the company’s head of international co-productions, noted ruefully that the pubcaster has managed to get just one program onto Britain’s BBC in the past five years.

On the other hand, National Geographic Channel Asia VP Marcia Goh admitted that 99% of her channel’s programming is coming from outside Asia, despite the fact that most topics are Asia-related.

Manuel Ayala, VP at Discovery Channel Asia, which hits around 40 million viewers in the region, believes Asian producers need to recall a few basic ground rules which apply as much to Discovery as to the international market.

Describing what he called his “Five Commandments of Local Production,” Ayala told a captivated audience that he is often shocked how few producers understand that Discovery is a client for programs, with specific needs and a specific target audience.

He urged producers to tighten up on pitches and to think “glocal” — take a global approach to a local story.

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