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Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

Peter Olszewski round out the media news in the Asian market

Australia’s online classified operator expands

Melbourne-based Digital Classifieds Group, which operates online classified sites throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific, has acquired a majority stake in Yula.la, a Laos-based online classifieds website. Financial details have not been disclosed.

Yula started in December 2013 and is the first online classifieds platform in Laos available on smartphones, tablets and computers. Yula founders, Christophe Eyquem and his wife, retain a minor stake in the business and will provide market knowledge and technical expertise.

Digital Classifieds Group operates Realestate.com.kh in Cambodia, Property.com.fj and Market.com.fj in Fiji, and Hausples.com.pg, Pngbuynrent.com and MarketMeri.com in Papua New Guinea.

Realestate.com.kh’s content director James Whitehead will move from Phnom Penh to Vientiane to manage Yula.la.

SPH launches website aimed at SMEs

Singapore Press Holdings has launched a new bilingual website, Sgsme.sg, aimed at leaders of SMEs. The site will provide SME-related news, analyses, features and interviews from The Straits Times, The Business Times, The SME Magazine, Lianhe Zaobao, zaobao.sg, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News.

Digital TV licences in Myanmar

Myanmar officialdom has given the go-ahead to two former exiled news outlets – the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and Mizzima – to operate their own digital channels under the state-owned Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV). This follows a call late last year by the Ministry of Information to local companies interested in becoming content providers for MRTV.

MRTV has now announced details of five companies granted broadcasting licenses. As well as DVB and Mizzima, the Young Investment Group, Fortune International, and Kaung Myanmar Aung received licenses. DVB was launched in 1992 by activists in Norway, and moved to Myanmar in 2012. Mizzima was founded in India in 1998 by Soe Myint, who hijacked a Thai Airways plane in 1990 as an act of political protest.

BBC Worldwide sells Go Jetters to China

BBC Worldwide has signed a deal with Chinese state broadcaster CCTV that will bring the CBeebies series Go Jetters to over 1.1 billion viewers in China. The 50-episode series, dubbed in Mandarin and subtitled in simplified Chinese, will premiere at the end of May on children’s channel, CCTV-14. Go Jetters will also be available to in China on multiple platforms. In addition to CCTV’s mobile streaming platforms, it will also launch in a CBeebies block on the IPTV platform BesTV and on the online platform iQIYI in June. In late August it will be available on digital platforms Tencent and Youku.

Hong Kong’s i-Cable still in business

Hong Kong’s ailing broadcaster i-Cable Communications halted trading on Tuesday morning pending the release of an announcement. The company’s chairman said it has taken an “important step” to enable the company to accept a new pay TV licence and to carry on with its pay TV, free TV and broadband businesses. News also broke that a consortium led by Hong Kong property tycoon David Chiu Tat-cheong was in discussions with i-Cable about possible investment.

China’s NetEase gets unicorn investment rating

China’s Shanghai Media Group, a subsidiary of Radio and Television Station of Shanghai, has led a RMB750 million (A$142.5m) series A investment in Chinese music and radio platform NetEase Cloud Music. Several other mostly media companies also participated in the round, which values NetEase Cloud Music at US$1 billion post-investment, rendering it a unicorn (startups valued at $1 billion or more). NetEase Cloud Music was launched in 2013, allowing users to download music online. It gains revenue from membership fees, sales of digital albums, data services, and online ads. Its number of users reached 200 million in July last year, up 100% YOY.

SPH second quarter profit down

Singapore Press Holdings reported its net profit for the second quarter ended February 28, 2017 fell 1.2% YOY to S$53.5 million (A$53.5m). A contributor to the profit decline was SPH’s media business, which underwent an 11.9% decline in revenue, with ad revenue down 16.8% from a year ago.

SPA CEO Alan Chan said, “We continue to focus on our drive to sustain and transform the core media business through investment in growth areas and cost discipline, while also pursuing other opportunities to diversify revenue streams. On this count, we look forward to launching our two new radio stations at the start of 2018.”

Venture capital invests in Singapore-based Sycamore Media

Venture capital firm Reapra has invested US$1.2 million (A$1.59m) in Sycamore Media Holdings, a Singapore-based media startup focusing on promoting entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia. Sycamore is also the parent company of Inc. Southeast Asia, the Southeast Asian licensee of global company Inc, which provides support for entrepreneurs in digital, print and video media and events. Neel Chowdhury, CEO of Sycamore and editor-in-chief of Inc. Southeast Asia, said the startup boom that hit China, Hong Kong and then India is now active in Southeast Asia and his company wanted a media product to capture that trend.

BBC ready to “adjust” to Thai laws

BBC World Service Group director Francesca Unsworth said in Bangkok last week that the BBC is ready to adjust its “work culture” to suit Thai laws and audiences. Unsworth, also the BBC’s deputy director of news and current affairs, told the Bangkok Post, “We have to be mindful of local sensibility and local laws. But we still need to serve all audiences in a way that we feel they are best served. We have to find a balanced operating environment.” In the last three years, the Thai government has at times blocked BBC local stories that it considered controversial.

Cambodia version of Buzzfeed to expand

Cambodian Khmer-language media and entertainment site Khmerload, which last August established a site presence in Myanmar, is ready to expand further in the Southeast Asia region. Last month the news site, founded in 2011 and described as a Cambodian version of Buzzfeed, became the first Cambodia startup to acquire Silicon Valley investment, securing $200,000 in investment from the regional arm of California-based venture capital seed fund, 500 Startups.

Hong Kong digital radio to shut down

Hong Kong’s digital radio transmissions will be shut down within six months. Digital radio was introduced in Hong Kong in 2010. Licenses were granted to three commercial operators – Phoenix U Radio, Digital Broadcasting Corporation and Metro Broadcast Corporation – plus public broadcaster RTHK. But the three commercial operators had their licences terminated, leaving only RTHK. The Executive Council has now declared that it is unrealistic to rely solely on the public broadcaster to operate the digital service.

Philippines shifting to digital TV

The Philippines is preparing to shift to digital TV in three to six years, according to regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission.

A plan is in place to have 95% of Filipino households switch to digital television transmission by 2023, with higher quality video and audio signals. Broadcasters will also be able to provide new services.
Some mobile companies are also preparing digital TV-ready smartphones.

The National Telecommunications Commission director Edgardo Cabarios noted that most Southeast Asia countries are migrating to digital at about the same time.

Mediaweek Asia: In Brief

• Japanese anime and drama series are so popular in Asia that Japan could soon overtake South Korea as the third-largest exporter of TV shows, after the US and UK.

• Cash will no longer be needed when making purchases at newspaper stands in Hong Kong because the Coalition of Hong Kong Newspaper and Magazine Merchants have worked with TNG, an e-wallet solution provider, to introduce electronic payment services. The coalition predicts that more than 100 newspaper stands in Hong Kong will be using the service by the end of this month.

• Singapore Press Holdings’ evening daily newspaper Shin Min celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 6 onboard Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas. About 250 guests enjoyed an afternoon of celebration that included a video showcasing Shin Min’s history.

• Kantar Media and CSM Media Research have won the TV audience measurement contract for Hong Kong for 2018 through 2023.

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