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ABU GA – Media leaders examine cutting edge content in a fragmented media market

Online and new media are the ideal platforms to support the basic values of broadcasting, not replace them, delegates at a special ABU high-level content forum in Vietnam have heard.

Themed “Cutting-edge content: opportunities and challenges in a fragmented Digital World”, the session, moderated by MediaCorp’s CEO Shaun Seow asked several of the world’s media leaders for their opinions n the challenges and opportunities for radio and TV broadcasters in the digital age.

Mr Gil Hwan-young, President and CEO of Korean Broadcasting System, said that in this era of unprecedented connectivity and choice for the audience, his organisation’s strategy to navigate the Media 3.0 era for their audience’s benefit was to go “Back to Basics”.

“With the many social media companies and platforms out there, there is a temptation to go overboard with new services. At KBS, we’ve selected those that work for us and our audience, and focus on making them as interactive and valuable to the audience as possible. Going Back to Basics also has to do with our Public Service Mission, which is our number one strategy and priority. We are making a focused effort to ensure that whatever we do in terms of new media or social media we are furthering our Public Service Mission. We are using the tools of the Media 3.0 Era to do so,” he said.

Mr Liu Changle, Chairman and CEO of Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television, said broadcasters had to embrace new technology and be ready for the era of big data.

“China is a huge market with 1.2 billion mobile users and 807 million internet users, and this had a huge impact on Phoenix, both in new media content and revenue derived from that content. The Phoenix portal site gets 700 million page views and 50 million user views, putting it in the top five most viewed portal sites in China,” he said.

Mr Liu warned, however, that just because online platforms had such a huge viewership, one could not just abandon traditional media as there were millions still using that as their primary source of information and entertainment.

“There are a lot of channels created on line, but not many with great content,” he said. “We need to create our own battleground by creating better content. The most important challenge is how to transform traditional media to omni-media. That is, blur the distinction between platforms and make good content available to everyone, everywhere.” 

Mr Jun Ogawa, Director for International Affairs at TBS Holdings, Japan said that the predictions of TV days being over were far from reality and that compelling stories still brought in mass audiences. He gave as an example TBS’s latest hit drama Hanzawa Naoki. 

“Japan, which is saturated by media on every platform, the ratings benchmark for success is 15%. The first episode of the drama rated at 20% then increased with each episode with the final average at 42.2%. It became the highest rated program in the past 30years,” Mr Ogawa said.

“In Osaka area, the peak hit 50.2. Half of the household watched the drama on television, in real time,” he added. 

Ms Judy Tam, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial and Operations Officer for Independent Television Service in the USA, said that the digital footprint extended the life of a program well beyond its TV date. 

“Online, social media and second screen elements support the broadcast, not take away from it,” she said. “If people care about the content, they will return and if they are given the opportunity to engage via other platforms, they will continue to come back.”

When asked by panel moderator Mr Shaun Seow, CEO of MediaCorp, Singapore, what was the one crucial, cutting-edge format or content that they would keep to in the future to conquer competition, Ms Tam chose documentary programming for Television and short form programming on-line.

Responding to the same question, Mr Tevita Gonelevu, Chief Executive Officer for Fiji Television Limited nominated educational programming. And he said the focus for broadcasters should be about ensuring quality and viewer interaction.

“It is not just about delivering hours of a particular genre, or securing provision of specific kinds of content or using particular platforms to deliver certain services,” he said.

Mr Seow had earlier described how content providers were increasingly using digital platforms to make their programs more interesting and engaging. He gave as an example a MediaCorp TV program that showcased a singing competition being accompanied by apps and activities, such as karaoke that submitted audiences’ songs as entries, participants profiles and details about the songs they sang, catch-up TV, behind the scenes segments, the ability to text their favourite singers and to register for the competition through the app.