Mediaweek’s Peter Olszewski rounds up the latest media news from the Asian market.
Aussie comedian’s iflix special
Australian comedian Jon Atherton will deliver laughs for iflix’s first original comedy special, titled Jon Atherton: Disoriental. The 60-minute special follows Atherton’s misadventures in Asia, where he’s lived and worked for close on 20 years. Atherton is fluent in multiple Asian languages and iflix bills him as “one of Australia’s most successful comedy exports, with an illustrious career in television and theatre across Australia, Asia and Africa”. Atherton appeared in iflix’s first Malaysian original series, Oi! Jaga Mulut. Disoriental was filmed in Kuala Lumpur, and produced by Double Vision, a provider of new media content, applications and services with production hubs in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Aussie editor-in-chief quits Khmer Times
Long-term Aussie expat Alan Parkhouse has quit as editor- in-chief of the Phnom Penh-based Khmer Times English language daily, effective at the end of this month. He says he is returning to Sydney for family reasons. Parkhouse’s first taste of working in Southeast Asia was in 1974 when he finished his apprenticeship as a compositor, and travelled and filed features on Laos and for the Sydney Daily Telegraph, where his father was news editor.
In 1991 he returned to the region, signing on as a sports section senior sub-editor for The Nation in Bangkok, and in 1994 he worked as a sports sub on the Eastern Express in Hong Kong. In 1995 he joined the Asia Times in Bangkok, which went spectacularly bust in 1997. In 2002, returned to The Nation in Bangkok as sports editor, then became chief sub-editor of the Sunday Bangkok Post in 2007. In 2011 he joined the Phnom Penh Post, rising to editor-in-chief, then in 2014 it was back Sunday Bangkok Post as senior editor, and finally in 2016 he joined the Khmer Times as editor-in-chief.
Pictured top: Alan Parkhouse with Hun Many, the PM’s youngest son and a member of parliament
Hong Kong broadcaster premiere Luke Fiascos’ Chinese docuseries
Hong Kong’s Celestial Tiger Entertainment announced that the highly anticipated docuseries Beat N Path will world premiere on March 8 on Celestial’s action entertainment channels KIX and KIX HD. The docuseries follows US Grammy award-winning hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco as he embarks on a cross-cultural journey of epic proportion across China. In the pilot series, he lives out his other passion – martial arts – practising with Kung Fu Masters throughout China, while also taking the opportunity to explore China’s burgeoning hip hop scene.
Singapore Airlines inflight magazine moves
Ink Singapore has been given the contract by Singapore Airlines to relaunch its inflight magazine, SilverKris, wresting the business from Singapore Press Holdings, which had worked with the airline for 15 years. Ink said it will relaunch SilverKris as an “inspiring, globally minded publication” in May 2018.
About 55,000 copies of SilverKris magazine will be produced monthly, with a minimum profit guarantee to the airline at the end of the contract term. In addition, Ink will revamp the airline’s travel inspiration website and app, SilverKris.com.
Asian deals signed at BBC Worldwide Showcase
BBC Worldwide has made a series of announcements from its Showcase 18 TV market in Liverpool, including news that an Indian version of the popular sitcom The Office is to be made in New Delhi. BBC Worldwide also said that leading South Korean broadcaster MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation) will be making a local version of the multi-award winning series Luther, starring Idris Elba, to premiere in late October.
In addition to a South Korean version of Luther, local versions of hit BBC series Mistresses and Life on Mars will also premiere on South Korean TV this year. BBC Worldwide also signed a deal with MIGU Video, China Mobile’s video platform, that will see more than 2,200 hours of BBC content from factual, lifestyle and preschool genres available to more than 856 million China Mobile subscribers.
BBC strengthens its Myanmar presence
BBC Worldwide Asia has signed a deal with CANAL+ Myanmar FG to see four BBC channels launch on CANAL’S new pay-TV platform. The BBC channels are BBC World News, BBC Earth, CBeebies and BBC Lifestyle, which is making its Myanmar debut. CANAL+ Group, in collaboration with Myanmar’s FOREVER media group launched the new pay-TV platform on January 29.
More funding for Myanmar’s ShweProperty
An unnamed London-based existing investor has led a seven-figure funding round for Myanmar property classifieds site ShweProperty to enable it to increase its local operations. The funding round was joined by Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures and Kevin Goos, ShweProperty managing director and previously CEO of Century 21 Cambodia.
New Straits Times company restructures management
Media Prima’s New Straits Times Press has restructured its senior management lineup, as it steps up its digital transformation push. Heading the list of senior personnel changes is Yushaimi Maulud Yahaya, who is the new editor-in-chief of the company’s three titles, New Straits Times, Berita Harian, Harian Metro, and other digital titles. Yushaimi has been the group editor of New Straits Times since March 2017. Before that he was editor-in-chief of the Malay Mail and group editorial adviser of the Redberry Group.
Baidu to list video streamer iQiyi in the US
China’s big tech Baidu plans to list its video streaming service iQiyi on a US exchange, and the company has submitted draft registration documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The planned listing will give Netflix-like iQiyi vital funding to fend off competition from larger rivals Tencent and Alibaba, and to fund more video acquisitions and productions.
Chinese media gaining foothold in Cambodia
Canada’s The Globe and Mail reports that Chinese media is firmly entrenching itself in Cambodia, noting that in early 2017 a memorandum of understanding on information cooperation was signed, resulting in Cambodians being granted scholarships to study journalism in China. September last year also saw the launch of NICE TV in Cambodia, a result of a partnering between Cambodia’s Interior Ministry and Chinese firm NICE Culture Investment Group, based in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.
Mediaweek Asia: In brief
• French-headquartered music streamer Deezer has upped its presence in Southeast Asia, announcing on Wednesday that it had struck a partnership deal with Singtel in Singapore. On February 1 it announced an exclusive partnership with Hutchison 3 Indonesia (Tri) which claims 59.2 million subscribers, 80% of whom are millennials.
• Czech-headquartered social media marketing platform Socialbakers will again host Engage, a summit for social media and digital marketing professionals in Bali, in partnership with Indonesia’s leading telecom provider Telkomsel. Engage will be held on March 1-3 at the Grand Hyatt Bali resort. Tina Moore from New Zealand Media and Entertainment will be one of many speakers.
• The Washington Post is opening a bureau in Hong Kong, which appears to be home to only one journalist. Foreign editor Douglas Jehl said, “The Hong Kong-based correspondent will allow us to turn a closer eye to Southeast Asia.”
• News and entertainment aggregator NewsDog – owned by Hong Kong-based Hacker Interstellar – is in talks to raise US$35-40 million from Tencent, though neither party has commented. NewsDog has 40 employees in offices in Hong Kong and India, where it is now one of India’s top three news and entertainment apps, competing with UC News, owned by Tencent rival Alibaba Group.
• Thai pay-TV broadcaster TrueVisions plans to broadcast in 4K this year, starting with World Cup 2018 in June and July. The Olympic Games 2020 will also be broadcast in 4K.
• Cambodian journalists have launched an online campaign and petition calling on the courts to drop charges against two former Radio Free Asia journalists, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who were arrested in November for allegedly secretly producing news for RFA.
• Malaysia’s Redberry Media Group has appointed Tho Tuck Who as its new CEO. He will be responsible for the overall management and operations of the companies within the Redberry Media Group, which include Focus Media Network, Point Cast Media, Redberry Ambient, Meru Utama, Redberry Outdoors, Redberry Retail, Ten Plus and Titanium Compass.
• Turner has hired two new execs for its Asia-Pacific finance team under CFO, Clement Schwebig. David Liu, formerly finance head for NBA Asia and India, has been appointed senior finance director at regional headquarters in Hong Kong, and Joseph Tan, formerly finance director of Publicis Communications Singapore, joins as finance director for Southeast Asia operations based in Singapore.
• Singapore-based HRM Asia has been sold by American company Diversified Communications to Florida-based LRP Publications, and Human Resource Executive Magazine. HRM Asia targets the APAC HR sector with a multiplatform network including digital content, events and a print publication, HRM Asia Magazine. Diversified Communications is the company that recently purchased Mumbrella.
• US-based mobile studio app Musical.ly will merge with its Chinese counterpart Tik Tok. This follows full acquisition by Tik Tok’s parent company ByteDance at the end of 2017.
• iflix has collaborated with one of Vietnam’s largest mobile network operators, Viettel Telecom. All prepaid and postpaid Viettel subscribers will gain three months’ unlimited access to iflix. The deal is sponsored by Viettel, which has almost 70 million subscribers in Vietnam. iflix this week also premiered its first two original programs in Bangladesh – a 40-minute telefilm Madventure and five-part web series Half.