Vikram Channa Vice President, Content, Discovery Networks Asia It is a great honour as the awards recognize the diligence and passion of all involved in nurturing the documentaries from across Asia Pacific. We’re pleased that shows like Born Again Buddhists which showcase the talent of young directors won top honours. Discovery Networks Asia has worked hard to extend its expertise in ‘storytelling’ as well as provided a platform for budding regional filmmakers. Great shows have a certain luminous quality to them and this usually has to do with the ability to tell a powerful story. At events like the ATA, where judges come from broadcasters across the region, the universality of a good yarn always stands out. TV today requires every producer to craft programmes which can hold an audience in a highly competitive multichannel universe. In Asia, significant strides have been made over the past few years in editing, cinematography, and CGI in documentaries. A regional talent pool of top professionals is also emerging. But more needs to go towards developing soft skills including development, writing and direction. Opportunities where Asian creatives are exposed to the international market and different forms of storytelling will help improve standards. For non-fiction content, Asia is a treasure trove of compelling stories that deserve to be told. The Beijing Olympics is the beginning of the next phase that will see the world increasingly interested in content produced in Asia. Also, several governments including Singapore’s MDA, Malaysia’s FINAS and Taiwan’s GIO have set aside funds to boost media-related activities. The value of nurturing a ‘creative class’ has never been understood better, as many Asian societies move up the value chain. The regional documentary industry producing for international markets is relatively nascent and will take its time maturing. Previously, production companies have mostly been producing for their own markets, but today we see the break down of cultural barriers as a pan-Asian context emerges. Joanne Azzopardi Sales Executive – Asia & South Africa, Southern Star It is a huge honour for us, especially as this is the first time that the Asian Television Awards has been extended to Australia and New Zealand. The quality of all nominees is very high and to be counted amongst our talented peers was indeed an honour. Award winning programmes are the ones which can connect with audiences and leave them with a lasting impression. Wire in the Blood won Best Single Drama/Telemovie with its compelling storyline, high production values and a strong cast led by Robson Green; while pre-school series Hi-5, Runner Up for Best Children’s Programme, has never been didactic to children, but has provided aspiration through entertainment with sound educational concepts. Many factors can come into play which affect ratings and viewership which do not reflect the quality of the actual show itself. If a show is a ratings hit, the odds are it delivers quality within its sector and that would have been taken into account in the judging. Regionally, more investments are needed to enable locally created content to compete with international products particularly those from the US. While Asia Pacific’s advantage is that it is a large and growing market, its challenges reside having to serve many different audience groups and language requirements and budgets are limited in many markets. James Hung Program & Production Director, STAR Chinese Channel Winning the Best Game Show award at the ATA exalts the channel’s brand and is recognition for the hard work that the production team devoted to the show. Having our industry peers appreciate the show means a lot to us. From the programme’s conception to execution, we kept our focus on thinking out of the box and strived for something that no one has done before, and at the same time, deliver what the viewer yearns. Overall, I believe in two rules of thumb in making good shows: originality in concept and fine quality in production. In terms of judging, I would say no to ratings as it would be quite hard to convince people when there isn’t yet an identifiable standard amongst television productions across Asia. Media companies across Asia should look towards marketing integration as well as to raise the production budget in order to advance the quality of television production. I believe the advantage of producing in Asia lies in the fact that there are fewer barriers due to similarities among cultures. On the other hand, Asian producers continue to face the challenge of breaking into both the American and European markets. Masako Horikawa Producer and Director, News Division, Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation Documentary programming costs much time and money, and these shows have sometimes been seen as a burden on the industry’s resources. Therefore it is important that recognition such as the Asian Television Awards helps justify the making of more documentary programs and to inform more peers on the significance behind such shows. Our winning entry The Kobe ‘A’ Case – 10 years for Both Victims & Assailant was successful because the victims’ families relied on me and opened up to discuss very personal and sensitive issues. The cameraman and the editor of the show put in much effort to cover the developments over 10 years, and the company provided invaluable support for the decade-long coverage. In addition, on a personal level, I tried to maintain contact with the victims’ families and did my best to increase social awareness so as not to repeat the tragedy. Almost all of the television show competitions in Japan do not include ratings in judging, and especially so for the categories involving documentary programming. Certainly, good ratings are important, but in my opinion, it does not represent the absolute value of the show. I think it is also important to produce programmes of high quality. In boosting the quality of television programmes in Asia Pacific, television festivals and award shows such as the Asian Television Awards should be held annually in each country to facilitate the exchange of information on trends in production of television programmes. Globally, many countries are interested in Asia’s natural, cultural and social make-up, problems and developments. Therefore it is important to continue showcasing Asia to the world by means of television programmes. Mok Choy Lin Supervising Producer, National Geographic Channels International It’s an honour to win best documentary and best wildlife program. It is proof that our documentary production funds in Asia are bearing fruit and we’re proud to nurture Asian filmmakers who can create awardwinning programs for an international audience. In my opinion, a very talented production team and great storytelling, makes for an award-winning TV show. Supercells, winner of the Best Documentary award, is a timely story about a growing number of patients from the west who are flying to Asia for stem cell treatment, a cure that is untried and untested. The filmmaker manages to win the trust and confidence of these patients and tell their stories of desperation and hope. Wild Dog Diaries, winner of Best Wildlife program, captures breathtaking scenes of birth, death and predation as an Indian filmmaker spends five years chronicling the lives of a family of wild dogs. I believe good craftsmanship should be recognized with or without high ratings. We should also support independent documentaries which are innovative and experimental but may not attract a mass audience. The Asia Pacific TV industry has to create more opportunities for local filmmakers to make programmes and nurture the craft of storytelling. To work with filmmakers in Asia who have never produced for an international audience is a challenge while the ability to gain access to unique local stories and perspectives available in the region stands as an advantage to produce in Asia. Shih-Chieh Liu & Yu-Hsin Tang Producers, Public Television Service We are honoured to receive the Asian Television Award for Anti Fraud Squad Sweepstake Scams, which was also selected for 2007 INPUT, and was nominated for the Best Variety Show prize at this year’s Golden Bell Awards in Taiwan. Creativity and cooperation were two important elements in making the show. Directors Chen Yi-Hsien and Tseng Neng- Chi were very dedicated to the programme and introduced much creativity into the show. New ideas and simple purpose and expression proved to be the winning formula for the show. Certainly, the ideal situation would be that quality programmes draw good ratings, but these two factors may not always be related and we thus believe it is fair to use ratings to determine the outcome of one of the award categories. Also, we look forward to possible web broadcast of programs to have a more satisfactory and fair rating survey. We can then collect more detailed information on audiences’ opinions as they decide what they want to watch and how to participate. In that case, programs can serve diverse segments viewers. More discussions and interaction, as well as Asian market analyses and professional reports are needed to allow regional creatives to quickly understand the fast growing Asia market and to match their creativity to reality. There are many countries, races, and stories in Asia. We also expect the region to be the economic center of the 21st century and believe now is the best time for the Asian TV and movie industries to be developed. Finally, 2008 will be a milestone for Public Television Services as it celebrates its 10th anniversary and will launch its first HD channel. The company is currently commencing production on a number of HD productions and special programs. Atsuhiko Sumoto Deputy Manager, International Relations, Mainichi Broadcasting System As a commercial television station, our producers and directors struggle for higher viewer ratings day in and day out. However, viewership is only one criterion and purpose for the production of our programmes. It means a lot to the creators that their programmes are recognized by industry peers based on criteria different from viewership. In Tokufuji Sound Stage, we have a performing arts programme which can directly convey our message to audiences beyond cultural and linguistic barriers. There is no national boundary when it comes to the appreciation of art and beauty. In my opinion, universality, power and creativity are essential ingredients of an awardwinning TV show. I think it’s too complicated to take viewership into consideration in the judging process because the number of channels available to viewers differs from one country to another. The fewer channels you have, the higher ratings you tend to get. Also, with the diversity in Asia, we need to take other factors into account including demographics and culture to make a fair judgment. I think it is important for Asian broadcasters to exchange ideas and information on all levels of our industry to improve the standard of television production. The Asian Television Awards can serve as such a platform on which Asian broadcasters share their ideas. One of the biggest advantages is that Asia has two of the world’s most populous countries in India and China which provide a huge potential for our industry. Given the widening disparity in wealth among the Asian countries, one of the biggest challenges we face is to bridge the digital divide in our industry with some players already way ahead of others in digitizing almost all respects of the business. Luchi Cruz-Valdes Head of News Production and Current Affairs, Overall In-charge of Production, ABS-CBN While we get a lot of satisfaction from serving our viewers, there is still nothing like being recognized by our peers. Our fellow broadcasters know how difficult it is to find a new concept in an industry still steeped in tradition and can appreciate what it means to win an ATA in a way our viewers can’t. With our daily deadlines and imperatives to rate and earn revenues, it is easy to forget our better goal and that is to produce unforgettable stories, compelling shows. An award winning TV show should remind us how good we can be. Our winning work, Bandila, revolves around the concept of a newscast with a strong sense of nationalism which sharpened the focus of the programme and gave it a unique voice. We are thrilled by the advancements in technology and encourage the industry to explore all new platforms that are becoming available. However, having said that, we should be aware that technology alone will not drive the industry as content will continue to be the driver. As more media platforms come available, Asia’s media companies have to invest more in research and story gathering as stories will never be enough. Asia is benefiting from an unprecedented demand for fresh content. We now see more Asian movies shown or remade in Hollywood while Asian shows have become popular overseas. ABSCBN’s news program made it to Emmy awards, a first for the Philippines. This, we think, is not a fad but our certain future as Asia goes global. The challenge is to look beyond one’s horizon and at the same time keep an eye on the home market. Addressing this bigger but also more fragmented market will be the challenge. Clyde Mercado Program Manager, Reporter’s Notebook, GMA Network The recognition means a great deal on different levels. Personally, for all who put together the show on a weekly basis, it makes all the lunch-less days, sleepless nights and pressure-filled lives worth it. Serving the people through information is rewarding but this award is a special bonus. Professionally, the award is both a validation and a warning; a validation that we are doing something right and a warning that the bar has been raised. Our programme, Reporter’s Notebook – ‘War in Lebanon,’ was successful because it was able to show the plight of Filipinos in Lebanon and what was done to help them at that time of crisis. This was done with host Jiggy Manicad braving the Lebanon trip just to report. I believe an award-winning TV show should be able to combine good reportage with good visuals. It brings to the fore realities often overlooked. But most importantly, an awardwinning TV show should be conceived with the intention and purpose of being able to effect change. Ratings and viewership should be considered because it is the viewers’ lives we try to change with our reports which should be seen by as many people as possible. How the show was received by the intended audience should thus be assessed, including feedback or even the show’s ability to spur actual actions. To improve the quality of regional productions, Asian media entities can explore the possibilities of holding symposia, seminars and workshops to compare and discuss issues, problems and developments in Asia’s television industry. While there is no scarcity in talent, the budgets of Asian productions remain a challenge because they are low compared to that of western productions. This challenge, however, has also proven to be an advantage because it has bred highly driven, patient and creative production professionals. CheeK Senior Vice President, Creative & Content and Creative Director, MTV Japan We are very honored and happy considering how good the other nominees were. MTV Unplugged and MTV Jammed were made with a lot of heart and effort by the MTV team and the artistes, so we are all equally excited about the recognition. It is also significant that it was selected by an Asiawide panel of judges who has understood and appreciated the merits of the programs. For MTV Jammed with Angela Aki, it was her music and the story of high school graduation that everyone can relate to, while MTV Unplugged with Hotei, saw us eliminate gimmicks and allowed the artiste and his music to speak for themselves. Besides ensuring technical excellence in shooting and editing to produce a program with good pace that makes for engaging viewing, the ‘story’ of the program is a very important ingredient. My opinion is that an award winning show is not dependent solely on the size of the budget but rather how good the concept is and the ability of the show to connect with the viewers on the emotional level. I believe that Asian television industries have to be opened up more to provide challenges and motivation to regional content creators which will undoubtedly lead to better standards. The advantage is that Asia is relatively young and we can experiment and get an idea from paper to screen in a short time as such, a lot of cool ideas come up frequently and it is exciting; by the same token, the challenge is that we are also a relatively young industry where skills, infrastructure and money are still in the developing phase. Phanya Nirunkul Chief Executive Officer, Workpoint Entertainment Todsagun Kid Game’s ATA win means a lot to us. Besides the viewers’ positive response, we are very proud it has gained the recognition and appreciation from industry peers. We’ve achieved success with continuous development as our production team has worked hard to improve the program throughout. Dedication, commitment and creativity, have also been the key factors of the achievement. This success cannot occur without the spirit of teamwork and the full support from every unit of our company and the Asian Television Award is the reward for our hard work and will inspire us to continue producing and delivering more quality work. I think the rewards should go to the best program in terms of creativity and production quality as ratings and viewership are only the estimated figure of the audience size via statistic methodology. I believe the Asian TV industry needs to share experiences and bring the differences of each culture to one another to develop unique work. I believe this is a start to improving the standards of TV production in the region. Also, the increasing recognition for Asian productions in Asia, as well as the broadening presence of Asian creatives and production in Europe and the US bodes well for Asian media players. Asian culture has its own character, and to be able to expand its acceptance and recognition to the rest of the world will be a challenge for us. Keishi Otomo Senior Producer, Drama Programs, NHK I’m very happy and relieved that people overseas have found drama series The Vulture relevant and compelling. The convincing, sensitive performances by Nao Omori and the entire cast were largely to thank for the program’s good reception in Japan and overseas. Overall, I believe originality, innovation, and a universally relevant message makes for an award-winning show. Asian media companies need to keep striving to produce quality programs. For documentaries, instead of buying shows that have been hits in Europe or US, they should put in effort to create high-quality programmes using home-grown talent. Asia is full of stories and talent waiting to be discovered. The diversity of Asia’s languages, cultures and religions make programs from Asia extremely challenging to make, and at the same time, extremely interesting. On the part of NHK, we are continuing our collaboration with MediaCorp in Singapore and KBS in South Korea on the The Asian Pitch initiative. We’re looking for independent directors who live and work in Asia and can tell original stories about the region. Our goals are to create new HD documentaries and find new programmaking talent in the region. TBS Spokesperson Tokyo Broadcasting System It is an honor that our programming was recognized by our industry peers, for this means the aims of the programs and producers were met. An award-winning TV show must deal with issues that are of relevance to the world today, and must have a pertinent message for viewers. ‘Bottom up’ is the key to improving the Asian TV industry. Given the economic diversity across Asia, economically advanced nations must help to lift the industry’s overall standard. Also, with constructive competition across the region we will see improvements, it is thus essential to involve as many countries as possible in the ATA. Diversity is both the strength and the difficulty of the Asian market. It is not easy to produce a program that suits all Asian nations when there is so much diversity in culture, language, religion, and economy. However, there have been some shows including NHK’s Oshin and KBS’ Winter Sonata which have won the hearts of Asian people proving it is not impossible although that remains a great challenge we face.