CNN Philippines: ‘We are here to win’

October 15, 2014 at 14:38

THE fusion of an international media outfit’s brand into one of the broadcast facilities of former Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua was seen to dispel the gray outlook of the self-made businessman’s recently acquired television network.Turner Broadcasting System-Asia Pacific and Nine Media Corp. recently entered into a five-year partnership agreement to launch CNN Philippines, a predominantly English news channel on free-to-air television.

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker said the partnership enables the global media outfit to provide “first-class news and information to millions of Filipinos in a way that we have not been able to previously.”

“It is part of our strategy to grow channels like this. It’s exciting to see things a bit energized—we wouldn’t do this just anywhere,” CNN International Senior Vice President Greg Beitchman added.

CNN Philippines, which will start airing its programs sometime in the first quarter of 2015, will operate from studio facilities in Manila and will replace 9TV on the Radio Philippines Network Inc.’s (RPN-9) nationwide network.

The negotiations started in June, Cabangon-Chua said, quipping that everything started informally.

“But, it was properly studied. The proposal is good, as it will be mutually beneficial. CNN is currently available through pay-TV coverage, but with this partnership, they could air via free-to-air TV—there will be more exposure for them,” he said. “On our end, our current reporters will be trained by them, and they will be sending consultants here to train our present complement.”

Nine Media President Reggie D. Galura said CNN Philippines will be airing a dynamic combination of local and international news, as well as current affairs, feature programming and documentaries.

“We will try to reinvent CNN International in the Philippine setting,” said Jing F. Magsaysay, senior vice president for news and current affairs at Nine Media Corp.

“We are proud to offer our viewers a global perspective of key issues and worldwide trending stories, as well as championing Filipino values and culture through locally produced content,“ Galura said.

Bullish on PHL prospects

CNN International Senior Vice President Ellena Lee said her firm is bullish about the prospects in the Philippines, especially since the country has been expanding at paces faster than its neighbors around Asia.

“We are very optimistic about the Philippines. We’re here because we’re optimistic where the news consumption is going. We will also tap Nine Media to be the best news agency in the Philippines to be offered internationally,” she pointed out.

Executives declined to give the amount of investment for the said venture, but noted that they are confident on the prospect of returns.

“I think media companies and news companies are challenged to make money. I think that by brining in our methods, thereby raising the bar, hopefully we could attract advertisers. I hope they would like our model, and are willing to try to reach their audience through our network. We are confident that it will work,” Beitchman told the BusinessMirror separately.

RPN-9 Director Benjamin V. Ramos added that hopes are high for the soon-to-be launched news outfit, as the improvements in the network are expected to yield better results.

Cabangon Chua in August made his foray into television broadcasting through the acquisition of the 34-percent significant minority stake of Solar TV Network Inc. in RPN-9. Analysts earlier said Cabangon Chua’s investment in the formerly state-owned broadcasting firm is very risky, as the television station has never been ranked high in the audience ratings game before.

The profitability of RPN-9 was questionable back then, but Ramos said the former ambassador would like to take the challenge of bringing the company back to the black.

First Grade Holdings Inc. Managing Director Astro C. del Castillo said the entry of the CNN brand will allow the local network to get back on its feet again and be more competitive in capturing market share.  “It will take time, however, as CNN is just one of the ingredients in trying to lure more sponsors to shore up revenues,” he said in a phone interview, when asked for comment.

Beitchman noted that the joint venture will be “very competitive” in the Philippine television market, which is dominated by GMA Network Inc. and ABS-CBN Corp.

“We have to bite into the market, and to do that we have to be very competitive, as it is a competitive market. What’s interesting is that advertising expense is projected to rise here, in line with the GDP [gross domestic product] growth. The advertising market is fairly optimistic,” he explained. “We are here to win.”

CNN Philippines will also be available in key cities around the Philippines, such as Cebu, Davao, Zamboanga, Baguio and Bacolod.

“We will assess our current structure and restructure according to what we think is best to deliver in the next year immediately and five years longer,” Magsaysay said. Cabangon Chua holds significant interests in media outfits nationwide, including the Aliw Broadcasting Corp., and Philippine Business Daily Mirror Publishing Inc., the operator of the BusinessMirror.



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