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No. 2 web’s parent aids with cash

SPH gives MediaWorks vote of long-term confidence

SINGAPORE — Beleaguered terrestrial broadcaster MediaWorks, which launched in May 2001, got some good news from parent Singapore Press Holdings in the form of cash.

The $23 million cash injection from parent print company SPH couldn’t have come at a better time for MediaWorks, which has already pink-slipped a quarter of its staff.

“If there’s one single thing I could change it would be the timing,” says MediaWorks CEO Leeo Cheok Yew. “In a better market we could have monetized more ratings into dollars.”

Of the cash lifeline from SPH, Lee adds: “We are encouraged by SPH’s endorsement of our achievements and its commitment and confidence in us.”

Of course, MediaWorks asserts that this is not a bail-out but a vote of long-term confidence. SPH executive chairman Lim Kim San says the cash injection will help sustain MediaWorks until market conditions improve.

“We are encouraged to note that MediaWorks is capturing a bigger audience share and would be in a stronger position to compete for advertising dollars when the economy recovers,” he says.

Indeed things are looking considerably brighter for MediaWorks in terms of rising viewership. According to ratings from AC Nielsen, Chinese-lingo Channel U’s primetime aud share is as much as 53%, with English-lingo Channel I’s aud share peaking at 25%.

But this is doing nothing to help MediaWorks increase advertising revenues.

The company still needs to be self sufficient and being No. 1 would help in this tiny market.

Says chief operating officer Man Shu Sum, “We cannot exist as No. 2. If anything, this year is even tougher than when we launched.”

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