Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

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

By Peter Olszewski

Telekom Malaysia becomes an OTT player
Telekom Malaysia has partnered with Viu, a freemium OTT video-on-demand service from Vuclip, a PCCW Ltd company based in Hong Kong. The deal will bring localised entertainment programming to the telecommunication giant’s broadband customers. At the launch on Monday, Telekom group CEOZamzamzairani Mohd Isa said, “We are excited to be a strategic partner of PCCW through its media company to bring Viu for the first time here in Malaysia – offering an even wider choice of content and entertainment to our broadband customers nationwide.”
In December, Telekom also sealed a partnership with iflix, the Malaysia-based VOD service by the Catcha Group. The company said there is no conflict between the offerings as Viu is mostly Asia-centric while iFlix  is more internationally geared.

Mango TV signs content deal with BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide has signed a new digital deal with China’s Mango TV which will enable subscribers to view edited documentary and preschool programs from the BBC. Programs include Tigers About the House featuringGiles Clark from the Australia Zoo who raises two Sumatran tiger cubs in his family home.Kelvin Yau, general manager of BBC Worldwide (Greater China), said, “Besides this deal, we are also deep in discussions with Mango TV to explore production and format opportunities particularly in iconic BBC documentaries, factual entertainment programs, dramas and films targeting the Chinese and global market.”

Singapore’s Toggle eyeing regional expansion
Singapore’s OTT Toggle is ensuring that some of its locally produced programs are appealing to other countries in the region, paving the way for the service to eventually expand regionally. Anil Nihalani, the head of connected media at Mediacorp, told that some earlier Toggle programs have made their way to Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Cambodia and Brunei. One program, Cook Eat China, has been sold to Canada.

Paramount channel to launch in Thailand in May
Viacom International Media Networks, together with Thailand’s second biggest pay-TV operator CTH, will launch the first Paramount Channel in Asia in May. Viacom said, “The high-definition 24-hour movie channel is set to launch first in Thailand on CTH’s traditional satellite and OTT streaming service in May, giving it linear OTT and linear TV Everywhere streaming rights in Thailand. The agreement also includes a new licensing deal for MTV Thailand to be officially moved over to CTH, which was effective from 15 January 2016.”

Name change for SCMP after assets sale
A bit of history in the making as Hong Kong’s SCMP Group Ltd, originally named after its flagship newspaper, the South China Morning Post – founded in 1903 and once owned by Rupert Murdoch – underwent a name change on Friday. The group will now be known as Armada Holdings Ltd, following the announcement of the sale on 14 December last year of the Post and the group’s entire media assets to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The sale will be completed on 24 March.

Thailand’s Voice TV cuts staff numbers 
Intense competition in Thailand’s digital terrestrial TV sector has forced Voice TV news station to cut 57 staff positions, effective 1 March. Voice TV, owned by Panthongtae Shinawatra, the son of ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is ranked last in the sector according to Nielsen Thailand, despite being in operation and marketed for two years. The Nation cited an unnamed source who said that Voice TV might also reduce its own TV production by 55%, while news production may be cut by 35% to pave the way for outsourcing and cost management.

Indonesia cracks down on Tumblr
The Indonesian government has backed down somewhat from its 17 February announcement that it would block Tumblr because of explicit content such as pornography and homosexual material.
The announcement caused widespread criticism prompting a change of mind by the Communications and Information Ministry the following day, with a Ministry official saying that a letter would be sent to Tumblr asking it to purge material deemed offensive by the Indonesian government. To date, Tumblr has apparently remained silent on the issue and it remains accessible in Indonesia.

Thai TV operators in brawl with regulator
Thailand’s pay-TV operators continue to slug it out with the regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, after allegedly unfair rules were imposed on the industry in December.
The country’s largest pay-TV operator TrueVisions has agreed it broke rules related to channel numbering and advertising limits and adds that it will not comply with the two rules even though the commission has already fined it and threatens further fines on a daily basis. Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, head of commercial and business development at TrueVisions, claims new rules introduced by the commission are unfair to operators. He said the company would take legal action.

In Brief
Thailand’s Foreign Ministry has revised and tightened guidelines for issuing visas to journalists and other media workers as apparently the former guidelines lacked a clear definition for foreign journalists and led to “misuse”, with holders of media visas working on unrelated fields.
The Singapore High Court last week ordered local ISPs to take down the web site, which free-streams US film and TV shows. This followed a request by the Motion picture Association, and is the first such court action since Singapore amended the Copyright Act in December 2014.
Singapore’s Mediacorp has signed with Colorado-based video management platform SpotX,  to power up the buying of video ads via automation. This makes Mediacorp one of the first Asian media companies to adopt programmatic buying for video.
Thailand’s TrueVisions is in talks with Qatar-based BeIN Sports over a sub-licensing agreement to air Barclays Premier League matches.
BBC Earth was the top factual channel in Singapore for January, according to data from Kantar Media Singapore and StarHub SmarTAM. BBC Earth also came first in December.
Chinese President Xi Jinping conducted a high-profile tour of state media headquarters, CCTV, People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency. China critics claimed the visit was a reaffirmation of the Communist Party’s tight grip on media.
Singapore’s number one women’s magazine, Her World, together with its online women’s portal herworldPLUS, will stage the Her World Young Woman Achiever Forum 2016 on 19 March. This is the third annual forum, targeting women aged 18-35 to inspire them to reach their career aspirations while providing valuable networking opportunities.

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