MediaCorp makes more millionaires

U.S., Singapore and Mandarin versions to air

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s MediaCorp TV is betting that not one but three versions of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” will spike the guns of new competitor MediaWorks.

MediaCorp’s Channel 5 launched what it hopes will become “Millionaire” frenzy by skedding the first of 10 episodes of the U.S. production at 8 p.m. on March 14.

Following that will be the April 18 preem of the Singapore production, airing each Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m., a ploy intended to keep viewers away from MediaWorks’ two new channels, the English-lingo TV Works and Channel U (Mandarin), which debut May 21.

More to come

Spanning the multicultural realm, a Mandarin-lingo “Millionaire” will start on MediaCorp’s Channel 8 in August, also telecast twice a week. Inhouse unit MediaCorp Studios is producing both versions.

MediaCorp group CEO Ernest Wong and COO Farrell Meisel believe the Singapore-formatted “Millionaires” will prove the broadcaster’s edge over its rival in local production.

They point to the group’s formidable annual output of 1,900 hours of locally-made programming as something MediaWorks can’t hope to match, bolstered by MediaCorp’s output deals with Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Disney, as well as close relationships with DreamWorks and CBS Prods.

Meisel, an American TV exec, joined MediaCorp Feb. 12 after helping to develop cable and terrestrial TV businesses in Germany, the U.K., Russia and Turkey.