Road to MIP-Asia paved with hopes.

Position:International television distribution conference

According to recent statistics the Asia-Pacific (Pac-Rim) region accounts for 60 per cent of the world's population and contributes 24 per cent to the global economy. In television terms, the Pac Rim region generates over $6 billion (excluding Japan and Australia), in ad revenues, to become $17 billion by the early 2000. A universe of 45 TV outlets (once again sans Japan and Australia) with 322 million TV households and over $2 billion in program acquisition power.

All that accounts, at least in part, why MIDEM decided, after a few years of research and study, to schedule its first MIP-Asia Dec. 1-3, in Hong Kong.

Just how right and how timely that decision was is attested to by the fact that, according to MIDEM's Barney Bernhard, MIP-Asia is completely sold out. Just about everybody who is anybody in international TV distribution is going to be there, and for a variety of reasons.

Many international distributors don't expect miracles from that first MIP-Asia edition. They are quite aware that the region contains a large number of small territories which, in the past, haven't paid a lot for programs.

At the same time, they are looking to the future. The largest, and most untapped, market in South East Asia is China which, holds an enormous potential but so far has been essentially closed, though some small deals have been made and all indications point to a gradual relaxation of restrictions.

According to Bernhard, the Chinese government will be well represented at the Hong Kong event, with the Chinese delegation lead by the Minister for Radio and Television. In addition, a great many of China's regional stations will be on hand, eager to see what is available.

Also, MIP-Asia has scheduled a wide range of "educational" symposiums, aimed at informing and explaining to the Asian attendees the facts of life about the state of television around the world.

The market has scheduled forums and discussions in such a way that they don't interfere with the market activities, and don't detract from the time Asian representatives would normally spend cruising the many booths.

What decided MIDEM to launch MIP-Asia at precisely this time?

"We have been looking at Southeast Asia for several years, aware of its improving economy and its steadily widening potential," said Bernhard. "Over the past year, the number of articles citing the economic gains in Asia have multiplied. What I think really brought it all to a head...

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