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     FrontPage Edition: Wed 8 December 2004

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MDA approves MediaCorp, SPH merged mass-market TV operations

Source: www.mda.gov.sg

Mediacorp, SPH application to merge mass-market television operations approved

The Media Development Authority (MDA) has given the approval for MediaCorp and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) to merge their mass-market TV operations.
No regulatory approval is needed for the proposed merger of the two companies' free newspapers, TODAY and Streats, as this move does not amount to a consolidation.
The approval for the merger of MediaCorp and SPH's TV operations is subject to their acceptance of the following conditions, which are introduced to encourage and ensure the continued growth of the local production industry while meeting the viewing interests of local audiences by providing quality, diversity and choice in local programming.
MediaCorp TV will be required to outsource at least 285 hours a year of local content production work to independent production companies.
This requirement will create jobs for local firms and help raise production standards, contributing to the overall growth of the local independent production sector. It will also help to increase the diversity and quality of local programming, by tapping into the diversity and experiences of the growing independent production sector.
In addition, MediaCorp TV will be required to continue to provide local content on its free-to-air TV channels to cater to the diverse interests of the audiences. The MDA will ensure that the broadcaster continues to meet its public broadcast requirements.
Additionally, the MDA will be reviewing the sharing of rights in relation to programmes which it funds, and will work with companies to realise the maximum commercial potential of such programmes.
The MDA will also engage in further discussions with the broadcaster and the industry to examine new models of broadcasting technology, standards or business rules that can add to the choice and diversity of programming and grow the local production sector.
The application by MediaCorp and SPH was for the formation of a joint holding company that would run the mass entertainment TV channels, with MediaCorp holding a 80 per cent majority and SPH the remaining 20 per cent.
At the same time, SPH would acquire a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press, which publishes the free newspaper, TODAY. MediaCorp would hold the majority 60 per cent in the company.
While MediaCorp is selling 40 per cent of its shareholding in MediaCorp Press to SPH, it will continue to have Board, management and editorial control over TODAY. No regulatory approval is required for this as the arrangement does not amount to a consolidation under the Media Market Conduct Code.
Post merger, the media landscape for newspaper operations is expected to remain similar to the current, pre-merger situation. MediaCorp and SPH will continue to operate their newspapers independently and in competition with each other.
The application by the two companies was assessed in line with the Code of Practice for Market Conduct in the Provision of Mass Media Services. In evaluating the application, the MDA took into consideration the impact of the merger upon the media industry as well as public interests and also reviewed the efficiencies that will result from the consolidation.
The MDA hopes that the consolidation will lead to better quality programmes and services for local audiences as well as markets overseas. The synergies created will benefit MediaCorp and SPH and allow both to work towards regionalisation.
MediaCorp and SPH had jointly announced the intended merger of their TV and free newspaper operations on 17 Sep 04 and the complete formal application was submitted to the MDA on 5 Nov 04.
Prior to that, the companies had sought and received in-principle approval from the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts.

Source: Media Development Authority Press Release 6 Dec 2004

SPH and MediaCorp welcome MDA's approval of merger of mass-market TV operations

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