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Bidders in line for Channel 9

World Brief

KUALA LUMPUR — After a little more than a year in operation, Malaysia’s third commercial terrestrial station, Channel 9, shuttered Feb. 1 and is for sale.

The station was launched in Sept. 2003 to target a younger age group and the Mandarin-speaking audience. But due to its inability to extend transmission beyond the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Channel 9 lost out to others in a crowded TV market, especially 8TV, which targets the same audience.

Owned by Channel 9 Media (formerly known as Medanmas), details of the sale are sketchy.

Channel 9 CEO Aziz Hamdan will only say bidders include satcaster Astro, Media Prima (owner of TV3, 8TV and the New Straits Times Press Malaysia), and Star Publications Malaysia (publisher of the Star, Sunday Star, and various magazines).

However, rumor has it an unnamed media group has bought the station, along with THR.fm, Channel 9’s sister radio station, for RM25 million ($6.5 million).

“Things are still being discussed. Nothing has been decided yet in terms of programming and rebranding. It will all depend on the new owner. We’ve been given until January 2006 to come back on air, but I’m confident we’ll return earlier than that,” Aziz adds.

Channel 9 has the government’s OK to hold on to its license while restructuring.

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