Dis busy at Asia TV mart

Sales kick off first day at forum

Disney-ABC International (Asia Pacific) opened this year's Asia Television Forum programming market Wednesday with a raft of deals, including pickups for "Dirty Sexy Money," "Private Practice," "Samantha Who?" and "Reaper."

As buyers and sellers in Singapore for the annual event keep close tabs on the effects of the writers strike on TV schedules in Asia, Disney-ABC International said that this year's market slate is its biggest ever, with 11 new and returning series. These include the new drama "Dirty" and the ABC Family original series "Greek."

Seven broadcasters, including Australia's Seven Network and Malaysia's 8TV, bought "Dirty," "Reaper," "Samantha" and "Private Practice," Disney said in the market's first syndication announcement.

A slew of other deals are bound to follow during the next three days, with organizers hoping for the value of total business done to top $60 million. Last year's market ended at $47 million, organizers Reed Exhibitions Singapore said.

Participation this year is up 12%, with 4,700 people registered from nearly 50 countries. More than 140 companies will participate in the market for the first time, Reed Exhibitions GM Michelle Lim said.

In addition to Disney-ABC International Television, companies this year include CBS Paramount Television, Sony Pictures International Television, Lionsgate Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Distribution.

Opening the event, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Dr. Lee Boon Yang said that the volume of deals done last year was seven times higher than the $6.3 million reported for the third edition in 2002.

Lee said the Asia Pacific region is leading the world's entertainment and media market growth, with spending at an average of 11.6% per year versus a compound annual growth rate of 7.3% globally.

"This is not surprising since Asia, with its cultural diversity and growing affluence, is both a rich source of media content as well as a major consumer of such content," he said. "There is tremendous potential to create content which appeals to global audiences while encapsulating the new spirit, dynamism and confidence of Asia."

International collaboration continues to be high on the local agenda, with ambitions ranging from independent cross-border financing to government-level treaties and alliances.

Singapore already has co-production agreements and media memoranda of understanding with Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea and New Zealand, among others. Lee said Singapore is eager to forge more co-production agreements with like-minded countries.