MORE than 500 programme buyers from 19 Pacific Rim countries will be at today's second MIP ASIA conference in Hong Kong despite the fact some companies have failed to return to the annual film and television programme shop-a-thon because sales last year did not meet their expectations. Commenting on those who had pulled out, Xavier Roy, the chief executive of the Paris-based Reed Midem Organisation, which organises the event, said what mattered most was that 64 new companies would exhibit at MIP ASIA '95 in the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. 'It is true that we have lost some companies,' he said. 'They didn't have the kind of programmes that adapted to the needs of the Asian buyers and maybe they expected too much from the first convention to make significant sales. 'Last year, a lot of companies just met and discovered who the Asian professionals were. Now, they will build on what they established last year. 'I think this year will be a real business market.' Mr Roy said the intent of MIP ASIA, an offshoot of the giant MIP conference held annually in Cannes, France, was to bring together Western companies which had programming adapted to the needs of Asian cultures. 'What we are trying to create is a real Pan-Asian market - to provide a forum for exhibitors and participants to meet and exchange ideas and to buy and sell programmes. It also provides a good avenue for launching co-productions.' Perhaps the most significant exhibitor MIP ASIA has attracted this year is the computer software giant Microsoft which will be showcasing its interactive television system. Known as Microsoft Interactive TV, the company will use the exhibition to display the system which has taken three years to develop. It also hopes to set up interactive television agreements in the region. Mr Roy said the participation of Microsoft reflected the rapid growth of the Asian television market. 'With the arrival of multimedia, on-line services and the rapid growth of cable, Asia has been quick to embrace these new technologies and Microsoft recognises this. 'This will be the first time Microsoft has exhibited in the television market. By the third MIP ASIA, Interactive TV will certainly be playing an important role at the exhibition,' he said. Besides the 221 booths of exhibitors representing 301 companies from 32 countries, MIP ASIA will hold three conferences - 'Broadcasting Strategies', 'Regulatory Systems' and the 'Chinese Market'. Today's topic, 'Broadcasting Strategies', will focus on the intense battle between ground technology (broadcast, cable and multimedia) versus direct-to-home satellite. It will concentrate on issues such as the market for the competing delivery systems and the kind of programming systems consumers can afford. Tomorrow, the conference will focus on conducting television business in China. Mr Roy said there was a huge demand for information on China and said 60 buyers and decision-makers from the country's largest television stations would attend MIP ASIA. The conference on Friday will deal with the issues of advertising and sponsorship regulations and how they affect foreign investors and programmers in Asia.