Asia's tale of two trade shows

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The eighth annual Asia Television Forum headed toward a close Thursday with the looming face-off between two Reed Midem shows in Asia topping the agenda on the market floor.

Buyers and sellers said that all of their meetings had included a discussion about the inaugural Amazia show in Hong Kong in November.

Many were questioning the logic of having two shows for the same region three weeks apart — Amazia in Hong Kong from Nov. 17-20 and the ATF in Singapore from Dec. 10-12.

But the biggest question of the three-day market was who would remain loyal to the Singapore event, which replaced the former MIP Asia market in the late 1990s, and who would go with the new?

The majority of distributors at the show this year are keeping their options open. A few think that some companies, particularly those based in Hong Kong, might go to both in 2008, but that longer term it will be one or the other.

Hong Kong-based Disney ABC International Television (Asia Pacific) vp of sales Greg Johnson said he hadn't made a decision on Amazia. "It's in Hong Kong, so that makes it easier, but it comes down to going wherever the clients are," Johnson said.

Either way, many distributors seemed to find the situation puzzling. "It's confusing to have two Reed shows that appear to be in competition with each other," Endemol's Southeast Asia managing director Ed Sharples said.

Endemol's U.K.-based director of sales and distribution, Matt Creasey, said that European companies will not travel to Asia for two shows. "There's absolutely no way," he added.

Executives from both Reed Exhibitions Singapore, which organizes the Asia Television Forum, and Amazia highlighted what they see as their strengths.

Reed Exhibitions Singapore general manager Michelle Lim said ATF has proven itself over the past eight years. She also said that the switch to an exhibition floor in 2008 from the current hotel suite-based format was an indication of the show's growth.

Amazia director Franz Caduc said the new show was about much more than television programming, and that the focus on all things digital was its strongest selling point.

Although they may not like the idea of two events so close to each other, distributors such as Endemol's Sharples acknowledge that the ATF has not cracked the digital market, leaving a gap for Amazia.

Caduc also said that Amazia's think-tank summit about digital progress, along with advertising agency participation and a technology showcase, were key differentiators.
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