Bloomberg pushes into Asia Pacific

Competish dismiss expansion; advertisers may not agree

SINGAPORE — Bloomberg TV finally gained carriage on StarHub Cable TV at the beginning of the year, adding Singapore to its priority financial hubs alongside Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo.

“We are targeting major money markets because of the high interest levels for our content,” says Bloomberg’s James Ross, “and we aim for distribution in all markets — we’re in 14 already.”

But within the news genre, one of the costliest to run and arguably the most cluttered in terms of competition, cutbacks at CNN Intl.’s operations in Hong Kong, and the departure of executives and three popular presenters from CNBC Asia Pacific, might not bode well for Bloomberg TV’s expansion in Asia.

International news channels like CNN and BBC World dismiss Bloomberg TV as a direct competitor, falling as it does into the financial & business news niche.

One senior BBC exec however, admits advertisers and media-buyers might not make such fine distinctions. “If there’s budget enough for just one news channel in the media plan, of course we’re competitors.”

More directly threatened by Bloomberg TV is CNBC Asia Pacific, reaching 29 million homes in Asia Pacific, built upon its erstwhile position as sole financial and business news provider.

The web’s programming veep Cynthia Owens is defiant. “CNBC has no rivals for business news programming in Asia or around the world. CEOs and analysts come to CNBC first and often exclusively. Viewers come to us first too because we produce high-quality, appealing programming and our ratings are climbing.”

As for continued rumors of departing staff indicating troubles at CNBC Asia Pacific, Owens remains upbeat.

“To the contrary, CNBC Asia is expanding its presence in Asia with more coverage in China and with our Shanghai partners China Business Network…Stock watchers Phil Yin and Cheryl Liew are already on board and we are about to make some additional announcements.”

Back at Bloomberg, execs deny suggestions that they are merely playing at cable TV provision — the majority of their revenue still coming from the 260,000 Bloomberg news terminals in money market trading offices worldwide.

“Bloomberg News, with eight bureaus in Asia (105 worldwide), is a huge function of the terminal business,” says Bloomberg Television’s News Director Brian Martinez, “and it’s highly integrated across a variety of media platforms. In fact we’re ramping up (TV) and have been enhancing the content with new programs ‘Bloomberg Now’ and ‘Bloomberg Live’ anchored out of Hong Kong.

“Bloomberg TV aims to grown news as a genre, and to upgrade the programming, providing the best breaking news available.”

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