Asia: Meet and greet session

Attendees use NATPE as chance to glad-hand with top U.S. distribs

SYDNEY — Some Asian sellers who downsized their presence at NATPE after the mart shrank several years ago will be back this month, viewing the event as a useful opportunity to meet with buyers, especially Latinos.

Others see no value in attending, preferring to concentrate on the MIP and Mipcom bazaars. And among buyers from the region, there are hopes that this NATPE will regain momentum after the recent fractures.

“We’re keen to see a revival in NATPE given the wide range of programming that the U.S. domestic market contributes globally. It will allow us to meet with producers and distributors in their home territory,” says Ross Crowley, senior VP programming at News Corp.’s Asian satcaster Star TV.

Crowley welcomes what he calls the reconsolidation of the formal market floor in Las Vegas “after the last few years of wandering through poorly equipped hotels trying to complete meetings with distributors.”

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He opines, “The value of the hotel-based marketing (especially across multiple hotels) for those travelling a long distance, then shuttling backwards and forwards through a convention town is quite diminished compared to being on an active floor like the MIP markets. ”

Star will be scouting for movies, series, specials, reality and music shows suitable for its Asian channels. It’ll also be on the lookout for formats and reality programs that will appeal to its auds in India and China, the countries where Star is most heavily involved in local production.

One of most enthusiastic supporters of NATPE is Japanese broadcaster Tokyo Broadcasting System.

“We consider it a very important market, especially for reaching buyers from Latin America,” says program sales department manager Makito Sugiyama.

TBS cut back its delegation of six-to-eight people when NATPE shrank several years ago, and is sending two or three execs this time, plus its New York-based rep.

Sugiyama sees the mart as an excellent platform for launching his banner’s new animation and reality/variety offerings. TBS will bow “Celebrities Under Pressure,” which puts celebs in the homes of ordinary folks and offers prizes to the host families. It hasn’t aired yet in Japan but has screened on ITV in the U.K.

TBS sales exec Masahi Yamamoto is confident of “Celebrities’ ” international prospects, especially for Latin America, as it’s a modified version of “Happy Family Plan,” which sold to numerous Latino territories.

At NATPE, TBS will introduce an English-lingo version of “Takeshi’s Castle,” an unscripted series. Each seg features 100 participants who are given challenges like pole vaulting over rivers or catching footballs in knee-deep mud.

Show has been licensed to Spike TV. The original was sold to more than 20 countries in Europe and Southeast Asia.

TBS is also unveiling animated series “Oh My Goddess,” “Air” and “Rozen Maiden.”

Japan’s Fuji TV will be repped at NATPE by agency Fuji Creative Corp.

Australia’s Southern Star sales will attend the mart but isn’t taking a stand.

“We see the market as a useful place to see a number of buyers in a central location,” says chief exec Cathy Payne. “For us, it is more about following up on pending business from Mipcom and sales efforts in the last quarter than launching anything new. It’s the least attended market by international buyers. The market has changed dramatically in line with changes in the U.S. syndicated market.

“NATPE is useful for seeing Latinos and U.S. buyers. However, we find the territory trips are much more valuable in terms of building business. The majority of our European business stems from European trips and Mipcom and MIP are by far the most important international TV markets for us.”

Southern Star’s slate will include children’s series “Gordon the Garden Gnome” (pre-sold to Cartoon Network in the U.S.) and “Foreign Exchange” as well as adult drama “Love My Way,” which was a hit this southern summer on pay network Fox8.

Payne has a bullish outlook on the climate for international sales.

“The market is the best it has been in the last four years, with strong television revenues stemming from most major markets. Copycat formats or reality shows don’t work, but good original ideas still break through.”

NATPE has less support in South Korea, where reps of major networks KBS Media and SBS say they won’t be attending. SBS Prods. exec director Young-Won Kim says he prefers to concentrate on MIP, Mipcom and Singapore’s Asian Film Market.

KBS America’s Woo-Sung Kim says he may look at going to the confab next year.