Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

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

New CEO for Phnom Penh Post

Australian-owned Cambodian English-language daily, the Phnom Penh Post has appointed former chief financial officer Alex Odom as CEO.

Odom is an associate with Andaman Capital Partners, headed by managing director Kevin Murphy, an investment specialist who in the 1980s worked in Australia as a journalist for the Truth and the Bulletin.

Murphy co-founded Post Media, the company owning the Phnom Penh Post, and is an investor.

More than a year ago he dispatched his man Odom to Phnom Penh as CFO to shore up the newspaper, which turned a profit for the first time in May last year.

Former CEO, Australian Chris Dawe, exited the Post late last year and major investor and owner, Perth miner Bill Clough, took the reins until last Friday, when Odom was announced as CEO.

China Media Capital moves into Hollywood

Shanghai-based China Media Capital, founded by media mogul Li Ruigang – dubbed as China’s Rupert Murdoch, and partner in some ventures of Alibaba tycoon Jack Ma, and helped along the way by Australian investor James Packer – this week acquired an equity stake in Imagine Entertainment, an American production firm led by director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer.

The production firm has been behind such films as Apollo 13 and The Da Vinci Code.

Li said in a press release, “Through the investment in Imagine Entertainment, we will team up with the top production team in Hollywood to further enter into the heartland of the world’s movie and television industries.”

China Media Capital (CMC) did not reveal the size of the equity stake nor what was paid for it.

According to Variety, the purchase was part of a $100 million-plus  capital injection into Imagine marshalled by boutique investment bank Raine Group and  announced last month.

iflix expansion secured after Sky investment

Sky is investing US$45m in a strategic partnership with iflix

The Pan-European pay-TV giant Sky announced on Wednesday that is investing US$45 million (A$60 million) in a strategic partnership with iflix, the Southeast Asian competitor to Netflix that, following its launch last May, is now available in  Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Sky CFO Andrew Griffith said, “iflix has quickly established itself as Southeast Asia’s most exciting and fastest-growing streaming TV service.”

The Sky investment is part of iflix’s latest funding round which has raised US$50 million.

One of Indonesia’s biggest broadcast groups, Surya Citra Media, also took part in the funding round.

Iflix’s cumulative funding is now US$90 million and will be used to shore up its existing markets while expanding to Indonesia and Vietnam, then stepping outside of Southeast Asia for the first time to Sri Lanka.

China’s Meitu invests into ASX-listed Migme

Chinese photo and video app developer Meitu has invested A$6.99 million in ASX-listed, Perth-start-up – but now Singapore-headquartered digital company – migme.

As part of an MOU, migme placed 11,650,000 of its shares with the Meitu at A$0.60 each.

The MOU will explore joint marketing and product development opportunities and will target migme’s key markets in South and Southeast Asia, focusing on Indonesia, the Philippines and India.

Meitu has over 900 million users across its portfolio of products. Its users are predominantly in China, but include over 100 million overseas users.

Indonesia warns TV about local content levels

Indonesia’s regulator has warned TV stations about the lack of local content, noting that all major television networks failed to fully implement the Network Broadcast System, adherence to which is a mandatory requirement for the extension of broadcast licences.

According to the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, all Indonesian television stations are obliged to implement the rules of the System regarding decentralisation, where  stations are prohibited from broadcasting nationally, forcing them to build networks with local stations.

Indonesian stations are divided into two categories – parent and member stations. Each member station of a national TV network should produce and broadcast at least 10% local programming.

More drama at Hong Kong’s oldest TV station

The saga surrounding Hong Kong’s beleaguered television station ATV has become increasingly more bizarre.

On Friday the station’s entire staff was laid off by its provisional liquidator, Deloitte.

Later on Friday the TV station held a press conference decrying the Deloitte decision and flaunting a suitcase full of cash which it said could be used to pay staff and operating costs.

On Friday evening a deal was struck with a court agreement to a restructuring plan put forward by ATV’s new investor, China Cultural Media Group’s Si Rongbin.

On Saturday ATV  re-hired around 160 employees to keep its broadcasts going until its licence expires on 1 April.

New editor-in-chief for Myanmar Times

The formerly Australian-minority-owned Myanmar Times daily newspaper has appointed longtime Malaysian journalist Bill Tegjeu as its new CEO.

Tegjeu is somewhat of a mystery man given his employment since 2013 and he quipped to Mediaweekthat he was an invisible man.

He did however supply employment details, stating that he worked on the Malay Mail from 1972 to1980, and again in 2008. He also worked on the New Straits Times from 1986 to 1994. A 2013 stint on theMalaysian Insider is the most recent appointment he cited to Mediaweek.

The Australian co-founder of the Myanmar Times, Ross Dunkley, sold his share of the paper but still sits as a director.

Hong Kong startup has big ambitions

A new media startup in Hong Kong, The Initium, is attempting to become the go-to source of news for all Chinese in the world according to WAN, which said, “The media company ambitiously positions itself as ‘the quality digital media for the global Chinese community’.”

In the first six months of its launch, it has attracted 4 million monthly unique views – 40% from Taiwan, 35% from Hong Kong, and the rest from the US, Japan, Southeast Asia and more than 100 other countries. The website and its mobile app were blocked in China 10 days after its launch.

Its key funder, Hua Cai, is a 39-year-old from South China with a law degree from Stanford, who works in Hong Kong as a lawyer.

Its editor-in-chief is Annie Zhang, an award-winning magazine journalist.

In Brief

The Straits Times won 12 gongs at parent company Singapore Press Holdings’ annual English/Malay/Tamil Media group awards ceremony. The Times’ awards included big wins in the coveted best journalist and story categories.

The Economist Group’s culture-lifestyle magazine Intelligent Life, rebranded and relaunched internationally as the bimonthly 1843, will hit Asian newsstands on 15 March.

Singapore Press Holdings has increased the cover price of all of its newspapers except The New Paper. The price of the Straits Times increases from S$1(A$97c)  to S$1.20.

After two years, Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has come up short in the transition TV broadcasting from analog to digital, according to its own inspection and evaluation committee.

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