Asia Media News: Phnom Penh Post protest, Asia Media Awards, Thai ad spend & more

Mediaweek’s Peter Olszewski rounds up the latest media news from the Asian market.

Mediaweek’s Peter Olszewski rounds up the latest media news from the Asian market: Friday May 11, 2018.

Phnom Penh Post protests against new owner

The new Malaysian owner of the formerly Australian-owned Phnom Penh Post, Sivakumar S Ganapathy, found himself under attack on the very first day of ownership by a strident and at times incorrect article condemning him and his activities in the very newspaper he had just purchased. Particularly galling apparently was that his name was spelled incorrectly.

The upshot of the ill-advised article was that the journalists who wrote it exited and the editor-in-chief was fired. This in turn triggered a walkout of all foreign reporters, followed by a flow of international coverage that translated the saga into a Cambodian government attack on the last vestiges of media freedom.

It was certainly a difficult day for the newly installed editor-in-chief Joshua Purushotman, (one Post journo reported his name as Joshua Purea) the former executive editor of Focus Malaysia, which itself was sold in February, with only one third of the staff retained.

Singapore Media Exchange opens for business with new CEO

The Singapore Media Exchange, a digital alliance and joint venture between Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings, became officially operational on Tuesday, after being originally announced in August last year. Newly appointed CEO Hari Shankar also took the helm on Tuesday, saying, “SMX is a harbinger of things to come in the programmatic space in Singapore, following similar developments in other parts of the world. I am incredibly excited to lead this initiative to deliver a premium, brand-safe alternative for programmatic buyers in Singapore.”

SMX will be extending the cooperative to other premium publishers, and said there is already keen interest from other publishers seeking alternative means to monetise their traffic.

Who won at Asia Media Awards

The Jack Ma-owned South China Morning Post was the biggest winner at the recent 17th Asian Media Awards night in Bali as part of WAN-Ifra’s Publish Asia conference. The Hong Kong media outlet took home three gold awards and two silvers.

Winners were chosen from 435 entries from 58 Asian and Middle East companies in 19 countries. Malaysia’s New Straits Times won three awards, and rival outfit The Star media group won one award.

Full list of winners here.

Bangkok Post Group moves more into digital and events

The Bangkok Post Group hopes to boost its business by moving more into digital publishing and event organising. Chairman Suthikiati Chirathivat said the company will leverage its strength as Thailand’s leading news and content provider to actively push for new revenue streams from digital business, event organising and partnerships with other leading companies. In addition to the Bangkok Post, the group publishes the Thai-language business newspaper Post Today, the free-sheet M2F and the magazine S Weekly. The group also publishes an international magazine range, including the Thai editions of Elle, Elle Men, Elle Decoration, Cleo, Science Illustrated and Forbes.

With focus now on digital media, the group is consolidating its titles. The group closed marie claire and discontinued the licence agreement for Cycling Plus last year due to deteriorating sales. It also merged Elle Men with Elle, and Elle Decoration was made a bimonthly magazine.

Washington Post’s new SE Asia correspondent

Shibani Mahtani

The Washington Post has appointed Singapore-raised Shibani Mahtani as its new Southeast Asia correspondent, although she’ll actually be based in Hong Kong. For the past 18 months, she has worked at The Wall Street Journal’s Chicago bureau.

Shibani said, “Thrilled to work with the Post’s incredible Asia crew, full of power women. So exciting to see how female-heavy the Post’s Asia team is.” She starts work with the Post on May 21 and will move to Hong Kong in mid-June.

A+E and Chinese broadcaster win Daytime Emmy

A+E Networks’ first international co-production with China’s Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation, the documentary-drama titled Scars of Nanking, won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. It was also nominated for outstanding Single Camera Editing at the awards.

The one-hour docudrama premiered in December last year on History in the US, History Asia and simultaneously on Jiangsu satellite TV in China.

An encore telecast, marking the 80th anniversary of the brutal Nanking Massacre by Japanese invaders during World War II, is scheduled for May 26 and June 5 on History Asia channel.

Indo ride-sharer Go-Jek gets into the content

Indonesian ride-sharing company Go-Jek is turning up the throttles on its content creation business with a new creative unit, Go-Studios. Michy Gustavia, Go-Jek’s senior vice president or acquisitions and development, revealed details of the new studio during the Asia Pacific Video Operators Summit in Bali, saying that the company wants to nurture individual talent and filmmakers and promote Indonesia and Indonesian content. Last year, Go-Jek worked with Vice on a sports doc series, Underdogs, which focused on athletes rising above poverty and prejudice. Now Go-Jek and Vice Indonesia are developing a film, When We Dance, directed by Joko Anwar and to be released by the end of 2019.

Malaysian company sells share of newsprint business

Malaysian media company Media Prima has announced that its subsidiary, The New Straits Times Press, and other shareholders of Malaysian Newsprint Industries, have agreed to sell their entire stake in the newsprint company to Asia Honour (Hong Kong) Ltd. According to media reports, Malaysia Newsprint has incurred losses for the past three years and faces more challenges with declining newsprint demand. The company was established in 1996 as a joint venture between Hong Leong Group, a conglomerate based in Malaysia, Norwegian paper company Norske Skog, New Straits Times Group, and Rimbunan Hijau Group, a large Malaysian multi-industry company.

First quarter Thai ad spend drops

Thai ad spend for the first quarter dropped 6.86% YOY to Bt24.69 billion (A$1billion), according to a Nielsen report, while the March spend was down 6.5%. Ad spending during the quarter continued to increase for digital TV, which was up 21.2%, radio, which grew 1.7%, movies, which were up 9.5% and outdoor media up 9.8%.

Several media segments saw ad spend dwindle during the quarter with traditional TV channels down 18.7% and cable and satellite stations down 26.60%.

As usual, print got hammered with ad spend for the quarter down 28.9% for newspapers, and 37.8% for magazines.

Mediaweek Asia In Brief

• Singapore-based content distribution and production company Bomanbridge Media has signed a licensing deal to broadcast UKTV’s Donal’s Asian Baking Adventure, a 10-part series on BBC Lifestyle in Asia. Bomanbridge acquired the rights from James Burstall’s Argonon International, and also licensed another Argonon deal to air Shaun Micallef’s Stairway to Heaven on BBC India

U Myat (Sonny) Swe

• The Human Rights Press Awards has appointed Myanmar media pioneer U Myat (Sonny) Swe as the keynote speaker at the May 12 awards ceremony at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. In 2000, Sonny, together with Perth’s Ross Dunkley, co-founded the part-Australian-owned Myanmar Times. For his trouble, Sonny did an eight-year-plus prison stretch, ostensibly for bypassing censorship regulations.

• Turner Asia Pacific last month appointed Vikram Sharma as vice president of Cartoon Network Enterprises, its regional licensing and merchandising division. Before joining Turner, Sharma worked for Disney in Asia, including Singapore and India.

• The Asia Pacific online video industry is set to more than double its share of video industry revenues from 9% in 2017 to 20% by 2023, according to Media Partners Asia research.

• Korean TV manufacturer LG Electronics plans to partner with several Hollywood studios to boost content for its 3D TVs, and is talking with Paramount, Fox, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers.

• To mark last week’s World Press Freedom Day, Thai media associations called on the government to revoke its announcements and orders limiting press freedoms. In turn, the government said its orders do not affect “honest” media but only those that present distorted news to panic people or affect peace and order.

Top photo: Hari Shankar, CEO of SMX (left), Julian Tan, executive vice president, digital division, SPH and director of SMX, and Roger Moy, head of consumer insights and analytics at Mediacorp and Chair of SMX

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