Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup July 22

Peter Olszewski round out the week’s media news in the Asian market

Media business decline hurts SPH third quarter profit

A media business decline affected Singapore Press Holdings’ net profit for the three months to 31 May, which fell 46.4% year-on-year to S$52.7 million (A$51.4m). Impairment charges of $28.4m mainly related to the magazine business impacted earnings in the quarter, the company said. For the quarter, the media business saw a $15.7m or 9.2% dip in ad revenue.

Circulation revenue was helped by newspaper cover price increases implemented on 1 March 2016.

Merger means Tencent will dominate Chinese music streaming

Tencent Holdings is merging its music-streaming business QQ Music with the China Music Corporation which runs two of China’s most popular music services, KuGou and Kuwo QQ Music service and China Music Corporation will form a new company, in which Tencent will have a controlling stake.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal is worth US$2.7 billion (A$3.6b).

Merging the top three Chinese music-streaming services will make Tencent the leader of China’s online music industry – KuGou has 28% market share, Kuwo 13% and QQ Music holds 15%.

SPH revamps its 93-year-old Chinese-language newspaper

Singapore Press Holdings’ 93-year-old newspaper Lianhe Zaobao and its online and mobile assets were revamped this week. The print edition has adopted a larger font size, bigger pictures, and more white space for easier reading. Prime news pages are increased from two to three pages, and there are more infographics and a quick-read window.

The Zaobao app has also undergone a revamp. There is an all-new function in the app that lets users click on the earphone symbol on an article and it will be read aloud.

Mediacorp signs rich media ad format deal with Sizmek

Mediacorp has signed a deal with open ad management company Sizmek to roll out HTML5 rich media ad formats for its top online sites. These include Channel News Asia, Elle, Toggle, and Today Online.

The deal is part of Mediacorp’s strategy to move from Flash and adopt HTML5 as the new standard for digital advertising.  This shift will also enable Mediacorp to better monetise its mobile ad inventory.

Thai first half ad spend down

Thai ad spend for the first half of the year fell by 7.86% to 55.97 billion baht (A$2.1b), and mainstream media was still being affected by a fragile domestic economy with big companies cutting their budgets.

Analog TV ad spend fell 11%, cable and satellite TV spend dropped 17.4%. Digital-TV spending was down 9%.

Newspaper advertising dropped 17.43%, with magazine ad spend down 28.15%.

Radio ads increased marginally by 0.57%, while internet advertising was up 77.56%.

The internet ad spend, equivalent to A$32 million, didn’t fall that far short of total mag ad spend of A$56.5m.

Baidu’s controversial sale of iQiyi

Chinese internet giant Baidu is planning to sell its online video unit iQiyi to its own chief executive at a price that is too low, according to Reuters sources.

Baidu CEO Robin Li and iQiyi CEO Yu Gong made an offer in February which valued iQiyi, China’s second-biggest online video provider, at US$2.8 billion (A$3.7b).

But a stakeholder, US-based investment firm Acacia Partners, complained this week via the media about a conflict of interest over a price tag for iQiyi that was “far too low”.

Baidu bought a majority stake in the then loss-making iQiyi in 2012.

Thailand’s digital channels still struggling

After two years of broadcasting, most of Thailand’s remaining 24 digital TV channels are struggling to survive, with two channels going off air in December.

Kematat Paladesh, president of PPTV, which is owned by Bangkok Media and Broadcasting Co, said the company has successfully positioned itself as a premium sports channel with its football broadcasts.

But he told the Bangkok Post that the digital TV industry would continue to face difficulties in the second half of this year and only outstanding operators that connect with the right audiences would survive.

He added that another concern for digital TV operators is the low-key management and supervision by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, which did not facilitate a smooth transition to digital TV.

War of words against Cambodia’s English-language newspapers

A report published by British human rights NGO Global Witness on 7 July describing how Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family have gained control of many of Cambodia’s most important companies set off a war of words against two English language newspapers – Cambodia Daily and the Australia-owned Phnom Penh Post – which published details of the report.

An anonymous threatening letter was sent to the two newspapers and was posted on the pro-government website Fresh News under the headline, “Behaviour plunging Cambodians into a bonfire of war because of foreigners”.

The letter/article was accompanied by a Nazi propaganda cartoon which added the names of the NGO and the two newspapers. Hun Sen’s daughter Hun Mana is one of Cambodia’s four biggest media owners.

Mediaweek Asia in brief

PCCW Media’s OTT platform Viu has been available in Singapore via Singtel since January. Figures for the first four months of the deal show that the service attracted 500,000 app downloads.

The Korea Communications Commission said that a preparation committee for starting ultra-high definition broadcasting in Korea was launched on 19 July. Korea’s terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC, and SBS  are scheduled to start UHD services in February, 2017.

Yet another Myanmar newspaper has closed: regional daily Mandalay Alinn Daily News, which launched in Februarys 2015, has stopped production due to “budget difficulties”, said editor-in-chief Thant Zin Oo.Fifteen journalists lost their jobs.

Line, the Japan-based mobile messenger service operator that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of South Korea’s Naver, has made a successful trading debut in New York and Tokyo, paving the way for its potential growth into non-Asian territories.

This year the Asia-Pacific will overtake North America as the world’s biggest market for digital ad spend, according to Strategy Analytics. It forecasts that Asia Pacific digital adspend will rise 18.2% in 2016 to $59.7 billion, while North America will rise 9.6% to $59.5b.

Grafolio, a Naver online platform for creative content, will host a Global Storypic Challenge to discover illustrators from around the world. Applicants must choose a theme and upload an illustrated story, with more than 20 episodes, on Grafolio by 18 September.

Thailand’s media and broadcasting industry needs more specialists to respond to the growing needs of brands and corporates. Jerome Hervio, managing director of Ipsos (Thailand) and the president of the Thailand Market Research Society, said advanced skill sets were needed such as data analysis, Internet specialists and graphic designers who can translate sophisticated data into easily digested infographics.

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