Diverse deals highlight Asia TV market


SINGAPORE -- Annual television programming market the Asia Television Forum opened Wednesday in Singapore with a slew of distribution and co-production deals for everything from full-length Mandarin-language action features to first-time television licensing agreements in emerging markets like Vietnam.

In addition to first-time distribution for "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and "Alias" in Vietnam, Buena Vista International Television Asia-Pacific announced its first Vietnamese deals for "Criminal Minds," classic action thriller "Nowhere Man" and supernatural drama "Ghost Whisperer."

BVITV also renewed its multiyear agreement with terrestrial broadcaster Radio Television Brunei for 260 hours of programming, including such Jetix kids' titles as "W.I.T.C.H.," "Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go!," "What's with Andy?" and "A.T.O.M."

Titles airing in Brunei for the first time are "Lost," "Alias," "Extreme Makeover," "8 Simple Rules" and "My Wife & Kids."

Steve Macallister, BVITV-AP's senior vp and managing director, said the deals underscored the company's "commitment to strengthen our presence in key emerging markets."

Macallister said that, along with "Brothers and Sisters," "Ugly Betty" was "a big story for BVITV-AP in Asia for 2007."

In a separate announcement, BVITV-AP said it has concluded a multiyear video-on-demand IPTV agreement for films with Singapore-based regional on-demand channel, Anytime, which covers IPTV platforms in Australia, Thailand and Taiwan.

Other announcements on the Asia Television Forum's opening day include FremantleMedia Enterprises' deal with Chinese-Australian celebrity chef Kylie Kwong to develop an international culinary travelogue series in partnership with Singapore production company Sitting In Pictures and the Media Development Authority of Singapore.

Singapore's MDA played a role in many of Wednesday's announcements including deals for feature films, the creation of a digital film fund and a new agreement to boost audio mixing in Singapore.

The MDA is one of the co-production partners on new Mandarin action feature "Rule Number One" along with Fortune Star Entertainment (HK) Ltd., the feature film and television production/distribution division of News Corp's Star group. The other two partners are Singapore-based production company Boku Films and Singapore video and movie distributor Innoform Media.

Production on the film, written and directed by Singapore director Kelvin Tong ("The Maid," "Love Story"), is scheduled to begin in mid-2007.

In a separate announcement, Singapore production and post-production house Mega Media and Indonesia's Omnicron Media Kreasi signed a memorandum of understanding for a total of 10 high-def digital feature films to be produced in 2007 and 2008 under a new Singapore-Indonesia Digital Film Fund.

Each film will be provided with $300,000 of equity investment for a total of $3 million over the two years, Mega Media's managing director Jonathan Foo said.

The Singapore-Indonesia Digital Film Fund is supported by the MDA and the Indonesian Directorate General of Film, Arts and Cultural Values.

Deals during the Asia Television Forum this year are expected to exceed the $33 million done last year, according to organizers Reed Exhibitions.