Behind the scenes of the media merger - Dec 08, 2004 (ST)

BackDec 08, 2004

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Behind the scenes of the media merger

Dec 08, 2004
The Straits Times

June 2000: Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) sets up MediaWorks for $50 million, marking its first move into broadcasting.

September 2000: SPH launches freesheet Streats as a counter to MediaCorp's Today, a commuter freesheet.

November 2000: MediaCorp's Today hits the streets.

May 2001: MediaWorks launches Channel U and TV Works, which is later renamed Channel i.

March 2002: SPH says net profit fell 20.3 per cent to $163 million in the six months ended Feb 28, 2002, due to weaker advertising sales.

September 2002: MediaCorp says net loss for year ended March 31, 2002, up from $19 million to $119 million.

November 2002: Then SPH executive chairman Lim Kim San says competition is hurting both SPH and MediaCorp.

He says he is open to giving up broadcasting if MediaCorp gives up print.

March 2003: MediaCorp's free-to-air stations, Channels 5 and 8, are in the red to the tune of $20.4 million. Its subsidiary, MediaCorp Press, which owns a 49.9 per cent stake in Today, loses another $10 million.

August 2003: SPH's MediaWorks runs up a loss of $40.2 million and Streats loses $5.8 million.

November 2003: Then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew says in an interview the market is too small to support two rival stations, which are both 'haemorrhaging'.

Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang says it is up to the two media players to decide if they want to stay in the game or call it quits.

September 2004: SPH and MediaCorp announce a deal to curb losses.

SPH will give up its TV channels to MediaCorp, and take a 20 per cent stake for $10 million in a new TV holding company.

SPH will also stop publishing Streats and take a 40 per cent stake for $19.16 million in MediaCorp Press, which publishes Today.

December 2004: SPH and MediaCorp announce that Channel i is to close on Jan 1 next year and Channel U and Channel 8 will have complementary programming.