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Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

Peter Olszewski rounds up Asia’s media news for the week in our Mediaweek Asia column

By Peter Olszewski

Aussie hosts launch new Discovery Networks Asia Pacific series

An Indonesian culture and tourism television program, Wondernesia, began airing on TLC and Discovery channels in Asia this week as part of the Tourism Ministry’s promotional activities. 

Produced by Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, Wondernesia features 12, 23-minute episodes. It is hosted by Indonesian-Australian model and actress Nadya Hutagalung along with international video bloggers such as Luke Latty from Australia, Mae Tan from Singapore, and Diana Huntley from China.

The program will showcase 12 tourist destinations from four provinces including Jakarta, Yogyakarta, West Nusa Tenggara and Papua.

Aussie broadcaster in Thailand sets new world record

Former Melbourne wool broker Jim Davison signed on for a new job as announcer for Radio Thailand’s 88FM last Sunday afternoon, the same day he celebrated his 102nd birthday.

Davison, a veteran of Thai English-language radio, has worked for a number of radio stations since first arriving in Bangkok 50 years ago. The fact that he is still working at the tender age of 102 makes him a candidate for the Guinness Book of Records, which currently lists the oldest person in the world still holding a job as a 94-year-old female DJ

After leaving Melbourne at age 28, Davison explored the world and his first radio job was in Tangiers after WW2 when he worked for the Pan American Broadcasting System. 

He then worked for a variety of radio stations in offbeat locations such as Trinidad and Brunei before settling in Thailand.

Astro-nomical growth for Malaysian pay-TV broadcaster

Malaysian pay-TV firm Astro showed a 5% per cent growth in revenue to RM4.1 billion (A$1.3 billion) in its nine-month results for the financial year ending January 31 2016.

EBITDA was up 8% to RM1.4 billion.

Astro chairman Tun Zaki Azmi said the group recorded growth despite “soft consumer sentiment”. He noted that the board declared a third interim dividend of 2.75 sen per share, 22% higher compared to the same period last year.

CEO Dato Rohana Rozhan said the group added 218,000 new TV customers during the period, underpinned by strong response for Njoi, Malaysia’s first subscription-free satellite TV service, which was up 43% to 1.2 million. This has resulted in a customer base of 4.7 million or 66% TV household penetration in the period, up by 4% from a year ago.

The CEO noted, “In 2016, our customers can look forward to a great sporting year with two major events, UEFA EURO 2016 and the Rio 2016 Olympics.”

Thai telco not yet ready for TV

Major Thai telecom company Intouch Holdings claims it is not yet ready to jump full steam into the TV industry until it has learnt more about it, according to CEO Somprasong Boonyachai.

But the company has certainly acquired some experience – under a joint venture, Intouch and production company Kantana remade the US teen drama TV series Gossip Girl into a Thai version, broadcast on Channel TV 3. 

Somprasong said there was no plan yet to develop the next season of the series.

Another delay in Hong Kong copyright debate

Scrutiny of  Hong Kong’s controversial Copyright Amendment Bill was postponed for another week on Tuesday when the Legislative Council meeting was adjourned because not enough politicians turned up to make a quorum.

Provisions to bring the digital world under reasonable and balanced copyright law have been debated for almost a decade in Hong Kong and the proposed amendments have strongly been criticised by netizens activists who have been planning protests.

More Thai out-of-home digital at airports

Thailand’s Aero Media Group will greatly increase its digital presence at 13 airports to capitalise on big increases in passenger numbers.

Aero Media operates out-of-home media, ranging from digital screens and billboards to online media, at 13 Thai airports under a concession from Airports of Thailand.

The number of passengers passing through  AOT’s airports in the fiscal year ended September soared 33.5% to 106.8 million. The numbers this calendar year are expected to hit 120 million, and projected to climb to 165 million in five years.

With upgrades to some of the airports underway, Aero Media Group will install digital screens at key airports, bringing its network to about 300 screens next year from 33 this year.

Major Chinese media firms merge 

China search engine Baidu’s Nasdaq-listed Chinese-language music search platform Baidu Music has embarked on a merger with Chinese music company Taihe Entertainment Group.

Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo told the South China Morning Post, “The merger represents a breakthrough in the digital music industry – the first-ever full integration of a leading internet platform and a traditional music company.”

The new Baidu company will compete with QQ Music, part of Tencent Holdings’ Mobile QQ social platform, which has about 576 million monthly active users.

Other major digital music-streaming services in mainland China include Kugou Music, NetEase Cloud Music, and the Alibaba Group-owned Xiami Music and Tiantian Dongting.

Briefs

The Wakuwaku Japan channel will launch on Singapore’s leading pay TV operator StarHub TV in January 2016, and will be available on 10 platforms in Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar. This will lead to increasing the number of potential viewers to more than 3.5 million households.

Korea’s SK Telecom will invest five trillion won (A$5.9 billion) in developing media content through its proposed takeover of CJ HelloVision, dispelling concerns that the deal may boost the company’s dominance in the broadcasting sector. Earlier last month, SK Telecom reached a deal to buy a 30% stake in CJHV for 500 billion won.

LeTV’s Asia-Pacific chief executive Mok Chui-tin said inclusion of bonus Premier League packages for customers who purchased a smartphone or television was aimed at attracting new customers. The Chinese company plans to increase the number of its TV members from 200,000 to one million in a year. 

Japan’s leading newspaper publisher, Asahi Shimbun, launched a new Chinese-language website, Japan Shopping Guide, to provide shopping and tourism information for the increasing number of tourists from Chinese-speaking countries and regions. In 2011, Asahi Shimbun launched its Chinese-language news site and information flowing from this will be used for content for the shopping guide.

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