This ATA, change was in the air as some of the region’s powerhouse channels lost out to smaller broadcasters. Another surprise was that a record number of 14 countries participated, contributing to an increase of entries from 981 in 2010 to 1039 in 2011.

Attended by more than 430 industry professionals, a total of 39 awards were given out to 22 companies that evening, ranging from fi rst time winners, such as China’s Win Sing Company Limited and Thailand-based MTV EXIT, to more familiar names like Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and Discovery Networks Asia Pacifi c (DNAP).

Hosting the two-hour event was husband and wife duo Oli Pettigrew and Linda Black along with a number of television celebrities and professionals including MediaCorp’s Tay Ping Hui and Pan Ling Ling, Astro’s Erra Fazira, and TVB actor Mak Cheung Ching.

This year the awards also saw the addition of four new award categories, which drew a sizeable number of strong entries from across the region from both traditional and new entrants. Best Documentary Series went to Tokyo Broadcasting System’s (TBS) The Soul of Reporting, made at the time of Japan’s Great Eastern Earthquake; Best Preschool Education Programme went to fi rst-time entrant Hunan Broadcasting System/ Aniworld TV from China with Doby & Disy, while highly commended went to another fi rst-time entrant KidsCo with Bommi and Friends. Qing Dynasty drama The Palace picked up Best Drama Screenplay; and Best Theme Song went to Ito Ang Buhay Ko (This is my Life) for the TV5 Philippines series Star Confessions.

Josefi na Annabel Banaga from ABC Development Corporation (TV5), who went on stage to receive the award for Best Theme Song, said it was a great new opportunity and platform for theme songs and music composers to be recognised and awarded for their work in television.

The fi nal awards of the evening also turned heads with CNN International bagging Cable and Satellite Channel of the Year and Network of the Year. The global news network is a fi rst time winner of these top honours, which DNAP has dominated for the past four years. CNN was also the biggest overall winner at this year’s ceremony, bagging fi ve awards in total, including those for Best Single News Story / Report (Bangladesh Begging Boy), Best Social Awareness Programme (Nepal’s Stolen Children) and Best News Presenter or Anchor (Anna Coren).

“To win these two coveted awards, along with three awards in other categories, is an extraordinary achievement and testament to the excellence, dedication and bravery of our people across the Asia Pacifi c region and beyond,” Ellana Lee, Vice President and Managing Editor for CNN International Asia Pacifi c, told TV ASIA Plus after the event.

Best Social Awareness Programme winner Nepal’s Stolen Children, along with Best Single News Story/ Report winner Bangladesh Begging Boy were a strong talking point that evening as both programmes were made as part of the CNN Freedom Project, an initiative that aims to raise more awareness to the plight of the suffering and oppressed. Leif Coorlim, Editorial Director, CNN Freedom Project, said, “Our primary focus is to call attention to massive human rights abuse taking place all across the globe, including Asia. It is a tremendous honour that we hope will encourage more people to join the fi ght against modern-day slavery.”

After a tumultuous year following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Japan’s NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) scored victory in the Terrestrial Network of the Year category, which Singapore’s

MediaCorp Channel 5 won in 2010. Additionally, NHK walked away with two other awards; Best Natural History or Wildlife Programme (Life Force: Madagascar) and Best Single Drama or Telemovie Programme (Threads of Our Hearts). MediaCorp, however, did not leave empty-handed. The State broadcaster took home the award for Terrestrial Broadcaster of the Year for the fourth time. The cast of news parody series The Noose also went on stage for a second time to receive the award for Best Comedy Programme, which it won the previous year, and again for Suhaimi Yusof (unable to attend the awards) for Best Comedy Performance, the category co-star Chua En Lai won in 2010 and which he humorously claimed in Suhaimi’s absence as he was away for last year’s Awards.

For the second year running, the Awards also comprised the ATA Showcase and Superpitch, both of which were held the same day as the gala ceremony, organised by Ten Alps’ TV and Entertainment Group. The Pan Pacifi c Hotel was once again a fl urry of activity, as both events saw a combined total of 397 attendees.