Steve Marcopoto Turner boss in Asai

Channels group signs Thailand JV, to accelerate localization strategy

HONG KONG — Steve Marcopoto, Turner International’s long time chief in the Asia-Pacific region is to stand down at the end of the year.

His departure as President and Managing Director comes after massive reductions of staff in the region and the announcement today of a new partnership in Thailand.

Marcopoto is the second senior Asian broadcasting boss to quit in as many weeks. Sony’s Ricky Ow left his job after 14 years, with effect from this week.

“Steve has guided Turner Asia Pacific through a period of rapid change. Under his exceptional leadership Turner went from broadcasting two networks in the region to 36 channels today along with a vast variety of digital and off-channel commerce activities,” Gerhard Zeiler, President Turner Broadcasting System International said in a statement.

Marcopoto will remain a senior adviser. Turner says it will announce succession plans in due course.

Having built up the Asian operations to considerable scale in most of the territories covered, Marcopoto almost inevitably had to decentralize the regional headquarter operations which were located in Hong Kong and to reduce the headcount. In June this year he announced the “tough but absolutely necessary” decision to cut 30% of the Asia-Pacific workforce. That came on top of a 10% cut announced across Turner International in October last year.

The Thai partnership with Major Kantana Broadcasting will be called M Turner. It kicks off with the launch of childrens’ channel Boomerang. The partnership is intended to help Turner expand beyond news and kids channels in South East Asia, notably into entertainment. Parent group Time Warner runs HBO separately across most of Asia-Pacific.

The general entertainment segment in India was the source of two of Turner’s biggest disappointments under Marcopoto. Having paid $117 million to NDTV for mainstream channel Imagine in 2010, Turner closed the network last year when it failed to hold on to its audiences. Earlier Turner had Real, another general entertainment JV in the country, with Midtech / Alva Brothers. That too failed to deliver and was shuttered in 2008.

(It has other successful businesses in India including channel distributors Zee Turner and Media Pro and the CNN-IBN joint venture.)

“Turner is poised for a great run and now is the best moment for the company to put a fresh set of hands in charge,” said Marcopoto in a prepared statement.

He says that several other deals an initiatives are in the pipeline and that he will try to implement as many as possible before his departure five months from now.

“We need expand our footprint in terms of markets and penetration and we need to expand our product line and do that through a combination of bringing new products to market and developing derivative products from core existing brands and categories,” he told newsletter Asia Media Journal.

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