Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

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

Big losses prompt closure of Malaysian Insider

Malaysia Insider left this message for readers up on its website

Malaysian Insider left this message for readers up on its website

Kuala Lumpur-based news website The Malaysian Insider shut down at midnight on 14 March “for commercial reasons”, according to a statement published by editor and CEO Jahabar Sadiq.

He wrote, “The Edge Media Group has decided to shut down The Malaysian Insider for commercial reasons. Perhaps it is fitting that we go offline at the start of the Ides of March.”

Almost 60 staff will be laid off.

In late February the site was suspended by the Malaysian government after it published a controversial article on corruption investigations into Prime Minister Najib Razak.

A softening ad market in Malaysia and a loss of income caused by the government’s decision added to the site’s RM10 million (A$3.2 million) in losses since its purchase by the Edge Media Group on 9 June 9 2014.

The group had been recently been trying to sell. Publisher and group CEO Ho Kay Tat said three parties with existing media businesses were interested, but no agreements could be reached and the sale fell through.

The Malaysia Insider debuted 25 February 25 2008.

Chinese video game streamer raises $130m

Chinese video game streamer has raised US$100 million (A$131.7 million) in a funding round led by China’s internet giant Tencent Holdings.

TencentQQ News reported that existing investors Sequoia Capital China, and Nanshan Capital also participated. Tencent’s investment was about $61 million.

Douyu’s platform has 200 million monthly users, and 15 million are daily active users. There are about 443.6 million gamers in China.

Hong Kong TV network losses mount

Hong Kong Television Network reports that for the year ended 31 December 2015 it is expected to record a significant increase of loss over 200% for the year, compared to the 16 months ended 31 December 2014.

The loss increase is attributed to the impairment loss on certain assets resulting from the uncertainties on the media business, and a rise in program costs, with revenue from program rights licensing and advertising income not increasing proportionally.

Chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay also noted that the company’s e-commerce business was launched on 2 February this year and is still in its early investment stage.

Philippine telco gets stake in iflix

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co’s US$15-million (A$20 million) investment in internet television service provider iflix was converted into a 7.5% stake last Friday.

The company said its investment in iflix was converted from convertible notes into ordinary shares of stock

This followed iflix completing a new round of funding led by Sky Plc and the Indonesian company Emtek Group, through subsidiary PT Surya Citra Media Tbk.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co chairman and CEO Manuel V Pangilinan told PhilStar that he welcomed the recent round of funding received by iflix because it validates the telco’s move to invest in the internet TV service provider last year.

The Catcha Group also invested another $15 million in iFlix.

Nielsen launching multiscreen ratings in Thailand

Nielsen Thailand, convinced that multiscreen ratings measurement has become crucial to TV operators and advertisers because viewing options have expanded to different digital devices, plans to unveil its multiscreen rating system by September.

Shows airing on Thai network TV will then be able to count online streaming consumers among their viewership.

Nielsen’s ratings system started with 2,400 households last year and is expected to expand to 3,000 by 2017.

Nielsen has dominated the Thai TV rating industry for almost 30 years but last year the Media Research Development Association  appointed London-based Kantar Media Co to operate its new multiplatform TV rating service for the broadcasting industry. This is expected to launch in 2017.

Calls for new TV ratings system for Indonesia

The Indonesia Local TV Association has urged the government to establish a new TV-ratings agency with more comprehensive coverage because current TV ratings only covered major TV stations and not local TV content.
Association chairman Jimmy Silalahi said rating bodies only covered 10 out of 98 cities, and he told theJakarta Post, “We need a rating body that covers broader areas of Indonesia and is more independent.”

Indonesia’s Communications and Information Ministry offered to audit TV-rating agencies, but Silalahi said that is not what is wanted. “We need a fair, independent rating body,” he said.

Nielsen Media Partner dominates TV rating in Indonesia.

Korean broadcasters oppose telco pay TV move

Leading Korean provincial broadcasters joined the two main broadcasting companies to oppose SK Telecom’s proposed takeover of CJ HelloVision, the country’s top pay-TV firm.

The 26 provincial broadcasters said in a joint statement that the main government body, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has the authority to either authorise or block SK Telecom’s 500 billion won (A$561.6 million) bid, and should address certain issues before granting approval.
The joint statement said if the deal went ahead it would hurt the best interests of provincial broadcasting companies and the broadcasting ecosystem.

The statement said, “Provincial broadcasters believe the SK-CJ deal is an attempt by the conglomerate to expand its influence in the broadcasting industry.”

SK Telecom seeks to acquire an initial 30% stake in CJ HelloVision for 500 billion won, before buying an additional 23.9% stake through put and call options.

As of 31 December 31 2015, CJ HelloVision claimed 4.10 million cable TV subscribers, 860,253 broadband customers, 673,167 VoIP users and 843,350 MVNO accounts.

Thai TV channel changes strategy after host jailed

The Bangkok Entertainment Company is now banking on sports programs shoring up its ratings and revenue for its Channel 3 and affiliate networks following a slowdown in its news show programs.

The slowdown was due to strong competition and the departure of its “famous” TV host Sorayuth Suthassanachinda, who on 1 March was sentenced to 13 years and four months prison after being found guilty on bribery and embezzlement charges.

Channel 3 suffered ad cancellations on three news programs that used to be hosted by Suthassanachinda,

The company will now air more sports, including competitions such as the Union of European Football Associations championship from France in June and July, the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Final in July, and the Summer Olympic Games from Rio in August.

The company has also acquired broadcasting rights to the 2016 MotoGP World Championship for the second consecutive year. The motorcycle racing will be broadcast on Channel 3SD (digital TV channel No 28) from this month until November.

In Brief

• MyChinaChannel, a Singapore-based media company that aggregates and syndicates China-related content worldwide, has appointed Patrick Yong as CEO. For the last 16 years Yong has worked for national broadcaster MediaCorp in a variety of positions including managing director.

• The Australian-owned Phnom Penh Post has axed its Saturday edition titled Post Weekend, stating that some content will now feature as a lift-out on Fridays. The troubled Saturday edition never recovered from a walkout of senior editors including the editor-in-chief in its early stages. Ironically, that ed-in-chief, Alan Parkhouse, returned to Phnom Penh to edit rival newspaper the Khmer Times in the same week as thePost Weekend was axed.

• Shareholders of Hong Kong’s about-to-be-renamed SCMP Group this week approved the disposal of its media business, including its flagship publication the South China Morning Post, to Jack Ma’s Alibaba Investments.

• A Chinese student in Nanjing may go blind after binge-watching 18 consecutive television episodes, according to Zhejiang TV’s Economic Life channel. The student said she watched 16 episodes of the South Korean television series Cheese in the Trap, and two episodes of Descendants of the Sun.

• Singapore’s longest-running independent online news site The Online Citizen has run out of funds and is being run as a one-man show by editor Terry Xu who hasn’t been paid for some months, according toAsia Sentinel.

• Korean broadcasters, Seoul Broadcasting System and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation form part of a consortium which has successfully tested and demonstrated the world’s first end-to-end 4K broadcast using the next-generation ATSC 3.0 standard.

• China will have the greatest number of IPTV subscribers in Asia-Pacific in 2021 with 78.4 subscribers, according to a Digital TV Research report. The report also noted that China will have 329 million pay-TV households by 2021. Legitimate pay-TV penetration will be lowest in Thailand with 30.2%, Australia with 31.7% and Indonesia with 32.6%.

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