Exex back axed SPH boss

Lee had negotiated deals with U, Par TV

SINGAPORE — Three top execs have ankled 2-year old broadcaster SPH MediaWorks in protest at the sudden axing of CEO Lee Cheok Yew last month.

The execs are media business group chief operating officer Melvin Ang, new media group senior VP Chris Rogers and chief financial officer Cheng Shoong Tat.

Lee was “shattered and heartbroken” at his sacking, which came after he had negotiated an extension to the broadcaster’s deal with Universal and announced a multimillion-dollar deal with Paramount Intl. Television.

The current Universal deal, signed May 2001 and expiring 2004, is believed to have been extended until the end of April 2007.

Insiders were surprised at Lee’s demise, particularly as MediaWorks’ two channels — Chinese-lingo Channel U and English-lingo Channel i (formerly TV Works) — are holding their own against rival MediaCorp.

The loss of the senior TV executives, who have been replaced by senior print media execs, casts serious speculation on the future direction of the broadcast arm.

Parent company Singapore Press Holdings is unhappy at hemorrhaging cash through its TV venture. And with TV advertising revenues a mere fraction of print revenues, MediaWorks may yet need a handout from its print parent.

Lee’s interim replacement is Wee Leong How, who is currently chairman of Times Periodicals, Singapore’s leading magazine publisher.

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