Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jimmy Lai to Establish New Cable News Channel

Hong Kong's Jimmy Lai, the media mogul who owns Apple Daily, is establishing TWO new cable TV news channels in Taiwan, reports Ting-yi Tsai in WSJ:

The chairman of Hong Kong's Next Media Ltd., which publishes the Apple Daily and Next Weekly in Taiwan, said in an interview Wednesday that he will invest more than six billion New Taiwan dollars, or about US$200 million, in the stations. They will carry general news, financial news, documentaries, talk shows, entertainment news, and some entertainment programs.

......

Taiwan is one of the most crowded television markets in the world. The island of 23 million people has more than 100 channels and eight 24-hours news channels.

But Mr. Lai said he has a good chance to succeed because people want credible sources of news with an international perspective. "The problem with TV here is it looks so provincial," he said.

.....

Mr. Lai emphasized that his TV channels would counter what he called a pro-China trend that has developed among Taiwan media.

"Once you become the mouthpiece of China, the Taiwanese people will desert you," he said. "They are not stupid."
Lai had originally wanted to purchase the China Times for its CTI cable news network, but decided instead to start his own when a rival bidder beat him to the purchase.

It sounds wonderful that Lai says he is planning to counter the mouthpieces of China. But before you break out the champagne, take a gander at the sad reality in the last paragraph....
Mr. Lai earlier this month appointed King Pu-tsung, a former Taiwan journalism professor and campaign manager of President Ma Ying-jeou, as the chief executive of the new TV stations.
Hmmm.... appointing the campaign manager of our pro-China president to run a station whose stated goal is to oppose the local pro-China media? Sure, that'll work.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

That guy King Pu-tsung is a character. He is a good looking guy, very intelligent guy, that seems to do whatever he wants (and Ma Ying-jeou always let him). Though indispensible for his ideas and a keystone to Ma's political career, both campaigning and in office, he was perpetually late to meetings, making final decisions after everyone else had already reached a consensus, and well, he also has that unsurprising failed marriage to go along with it all.

Anyways, Jimmy Lai talks a big talk, but the cable industry here ain't like the then very stodgy newspaper industry. It's already highly competitive, highly sensational, does a whole lotta cross-advertising for non-news channels, and does paid segments on behalf of advertisers all the time.

The fact is, there's a segment of the population here, largely older, largely in the North, largely military or working for the gov't or waisheng that LIKES the pro-China stuff. They love the 24-7 Chen Shuibian stuff and those channels catering to that kind of taste are giving them what they want.

However, while the TV industry in Taiwan is saturated, the internet industry is not. Someone that could do something across the TV-internet spheres has the potential to make a killing in Taiwan, and also lead the way worldwide in Mandarin-language new media. That's where Jimmy Lai should really be putting his money.

TicoExpat said...

If by international they mean focused on China.... we already have that.

reeb said...

Something else to consider: from what I see on local TV, many of the stations get their news from.... the Apple Daily. (they even show Apple News photos in the background).

Lai coming in will force the other networks to do real reporting, not just newspaper reading.

Lastly, I find it bizarre that on TV here, the only station that covers real international stories is Sissy Chen's program.

Tim Maddog said...

Jimmy "Rotten Apple" Lai said:
- - -
Once you become the mouthpiece of China [...]
- - -

... after having said:
- - -
[...] it looks so provincial.
- - -

As usual, appearances can be deceiving.

For those unfamiliar with Mr. King, they should take a look at this:
- - -
[DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德)] cited an article in the latest issue of Eyewitness magazine stating that Taipei Deputy Mayor King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) had asked reporters covering the city beat to be careful in their reporting because he had the cellphone number of their editors-in-chief.

Eyewitness is a bi-monthly magazine published by the Association of Taiwan Journalists.

King has also reportedly berated journalists for asking questions he dislikes, or trying to do in-depth investigative reporting on the city government.

Lai also enumerated 15 city government "scandals," including an alleged conspiracy of city police and car thieves in August, corruption in the city's Parking Management Office last month and recent zoning relaxation for the Yangmingshan National Park.

In addition to asking the city government to offer an explanation on those matters, Lai asked the pan-blue camp to use the same standards it applies to the DPP government to look at the city's "repression" of press freedom.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said that the reporter's account made him realize "why Ma enjoys such a high popularity rating, why he has such a clean political image and why he can spend so much more time jogging in shorts than attending to city affairs."

- - -

Yep. Sounds like "Mr. Propaganda" to me.

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

I just read your blog, and the other blogs linked by your list.

I am not attracted nor convinced by TV's or major medias. Global Voices on line is better.

Thomas said...

"
... after having said:
- - -
[...] it looks so provincial."

I too was wondering about this. Did he make the original comment in Chinese? If so, there couldn't have been the same double meaning to the word and this may be just an accident of translation. If he said it in English, then the double meaning is indeed possible.

However, I am not sure that "provincial" meaning province-like would be incorrect. If he really wants a serious, neutral news station that the world can take seriously, he has every right to slap the "provincial" label on Taiwan. Face it, the news stations on the island are generally not of international or national calibre. His message could just as easily be, "if you guys are a country, then you need a countrywide news station that people can respect."

Of course, the appointment of that King guy seems to muddy things a great deal though...

Tim Maddog said...

Thomas, I inquired by e-mail, and the writer told me that the interview was conducted in English.

Therefore, "provincial" is Jimmy Lai's own word. Whether it's a slur or not is up for debate.

Tim Maddog

Tim Maddog said...

Reeb wrote:
- - -
Lastly, I find it bizarre that on TV here, the only station that covers real international stories is Sissy Chen's program.
- - -

Have you ever seen SET's 消失的國界 or FTV's 台灣看天下 (Taiwan's World Perspective)? Neither of their hosts dresses up like Little Bo Peep.

Tim Maddog