Confab to host more than 400 industryites in its 12th year

HONG KONG — The 10th Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia convention got underway this week amid growing competition in markets around the region.

“The economic climate in the past six months has helped provide a turnaround for the multi-channel and broadband industries,” Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies says. “Broadband has introduced competition, and this has sharpened competition on the cable side.”

Advertising spending has risen roughly 8% across the region, cable subscriptions are up as much as 10%, and broadband subscriptions are “going through the roof,” according to Davies.

In Hong Kong alone, two broadband pay TV services have recently launched, and a third will bow next month. The city has 600,000 cable subscribers and one million broadband subscribers.

“Like pay TV, people didn’t understand broadband services at first. But once they do, they utilize it,” Davies says.

All this is good news for the Casbaa Convention. More than 400 industryites are expected at the panel-packed forum held at the Grand Hyatt and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Speakers, some via satellite or tape, include Giuliano Berretta, chairman and CEO of Eutelsat; Nobuyuki Idei, chairman and group CEO of Sony; Masayuki Nozoe, Sony executive VP and executive officer; and Ken Roman, former chairman and CEO of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide.

Casbaa, now in its 12th year, is enjoying a good spell. Fifteen companies have joined in the past 12 months, taking members to 127.

Next year, it will introduce training programs for satellite news gathering and sales and marketing, expand the amount of data it provides, and work more closely with other industry bodies.

“It is incredibly difficult to keep up with all the changes. It requires a great deal of concentration to make sure the industry is aware of the implications of asymmetric digital subscriber lines, Wi-Fi, interactive satellite, satellite via broadband, and the implications of personal video recorders and what they mean for the TV industry,” Davies says.

Going forward, he says Casbaa will push for greater penetration rates, continue to battle piracy and ensure the regulations across the region remain open and evenhanded.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more