In September 1988, Sydney television producer Michael McKay started a small
independent production company called activeTV.
ActiveTV is best known locally for putting on the Carols In The Park event, which is
broadcast on Seven. Outside of Carols, however, the company is best-known for its
success in Asia. In 2006, activeTV Asia was established in Singapore off the back of
the company’s first production of The Amazing Race Asia for AXN.
The company is now headquartered in Singapore with a strong production base in
Manila, as well as the foundation business in Melbourne.
“When we first came into Singapore in 2006 no one had really done reality TV so we
quickly trained up a lot of people and a great many have progressed in the industry
today because of that training,” McKay told Mediaweek’s Peter Olszewski in an
interview this year. “We did the same thing up in Manila. We also take on interns, we
try to train and develop people and if I was proudest of anything it would be that.”
However, McKay’s strategy for success in Asia involved looking beyond just
“We wanted to be not just a production company,” said McKay this week. “I was
worried production companies were a dying breed – the margins are always getting
crunched and getting tougher and tougher. At the centre of our business now we have
content we own, or that we at least have a partnership in.
“We then ask if we can make money off the production and then can we make money
from the distribution and sell sponsorship too. We look at every possible revenue
stream, from events to government funding.”
ActiveTV has recently been commissioned to make three stand-up comedy specials,
although McKay was not able to give any more detail on that project yet.
“We created a series called Celebrity Car Wars, which is coming up to its third
season. It is family entertainment where we take six celebrities and three motor
racing drivers who teach the celebrities how to really drive a car via some crazy
McKay said he uses his experience from years of making The Amazing Race on the
challenges. ActiveTV worked on that format in Asia, Australia and Israel.
With three seasons for Celebrity Car Wars on Asia’s History Network, McKay said
interest in the format is growing from international markets outside Asia. “People
have realised this is much more than a car show for blokes.”
Other programs on the slate include Food Files for National Geographic
internationally, which examines what is really in the food people are eating. “We
have fun with that too. Our style when we make informative programs is to have
ActiveTV more recently did the Asian TV Awards, which were broadcast in Singapore
on Friday December 1. “We have just started to produce content in 4K. The biggest
issue for us is that it eats up much storage space on our server. We have our own
post-production facility in Singapore where we run eight edit suites and we add to
that out of Australia if we need more.”
James Manning – mediaweek – December 14, 2017