Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 19 News List

NGC brings more Asian TV to screen

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taking the National Geographic Channel (NGC) through its first five years in Asia, Ward Laurence Platt, the managing director and executive vice president of NGC Asia, has seen growth in terms of the distribution and reception of the channel in the region.

In return he is planning more Asia-related programs and more funding projects for documentary makers in Asia.

"It's been a good five years," Platt said. "We now broadcast to more than 5 million homes in Asia and the Middle East."

Platt said he's glad that Asian audiences now appreciate that the channel not only offers programs about wildlife and nature, "but also many documentaries about different cultures and stories about people."

NGC has produced several Taiwan-related programs, including the Taipei version of US$100 Taxi Ride, which lets a taxi driver guide you to travel in Taiwan with a budget of US$100, and Hot Science from Taiwan, which introduces Taiwan's leading science and technology. Another popular Asian program includes a documentary featuring Chinese NBA star Yao Ming (姚明).

"These shows have at least average ratings in regions outside of Taiwan or Asia," Platt said.

For Platt, Taiwan's high rate of cable TV ownership makes it an unique market.

Coming to such a demanding market and negotiating with local system operators is a battle, Platt said, as is blocking hackers from putting their advertisements on the channel.

"We have been complained to the GIO a few times about the illegal ads. But the situation has not improved yet," Platt said.

Beginning last year, NGC and The Economic Development Board of Singapore jointly set up a project funding Asian documentary makers and offering them screenings on NGC.

The project is called Show Reel to Asia and NGC channel selected 10 projects from 500 applications (many of them Taiwanese) and will begin screening the selected works from the end of August.

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