TOP STORIES:

China key for Zee TV <#1>

US$3.5 billion deal for 75% of Endemol NV <#2>

imbX2007 takes on Digital Convergence <#3>

Viacom and Septeni launch free mobile site in Japan <#4>

Oprah switches to Hallmark in Asia as Star World welcomes The May Lee Show <#5>

Eddie McGuire vacates CEO job at Nine Network <#6>


China key for Zee TV

Hong Kong - Zee is eyeing local production opportunities in China following the establishment of its Zee TV China office in Guangzhou. And Zee Entertainment Enterprises has relocated many of its team to a new Hong Kong office, with Head of Asia Pacific, International Business, Mukund Cairae at the helm.

Cairae says Zee TV China is "looking at co-operation and co-production"
with major players in China to produce "Chinese content for Chinese audiences."

Currently in talks with state broadcaster CCTV, Shanghai Media Group and Southern Media Corporation, Cairae is extremely optimistic about the opportunities China offers. "We're looking at a fashion channel in Beijing, as well as talking to Chinese production companies and provincial stations," he says. The Zee Cine Awards and China Fashion Awards have been topics under discussion, with potential Shanghai Media Group projects also having a new media emphasis.

Cairae cites the ratings success on Guangzhou TV, of weekly show This is India. A mix of documentary, travelogue and Bollywood music, the show topped the ratings on the English-language channel, he says.

With India offering some of the lowest ARPUs in the world, Cairae says it makes sense to be expanding their horizons. "Zee TV Asia Pacific is very different from what one might see in India. We are in 17 countries in Asia Pacific, and tastes vary by market - Indonesia like epics, China like dramas, Europe like Bollywood," he says. "We're also trying to bridge the gap between 1960s Hindi movies and today."

And following the event's success in London, the Zee Carnival is coming to Asia, specifically Singapore, from October 20-21 2007. Cairae says it will showcase the best of Indian entertainment, so that people 'Think India, think Zee.'


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US$3.5 billion deal for 75% of Endemol NV

Hilversum - Telefonica SA is to finally sell its 99.7% stake in Endemol Investment Holding BV, the holding company that indirectly owns 75% of Dutch production company Endemol NV, to a 'newly incorporated vehicle'.

That is a consortium whose members include Endemol founder John de Mol. It is jointly and equally owned by Mediaset SpA-owned Mediacinco Cartera SL, and its quoted subsidiary Gestevision Telecinco, SA; Cyrte Fund II B.V. and GS Capital Partners VI Fund, LP.

The total consideration for the sale of Endemol Holding amounts to ?2.6 billion (US$3.5 billion) for 75% of Endemol NV. Telefonica paid ?5.5 billion for the stake in 2000.

The consortium has committed to launch an unconditional public offer for the remaining 25% of Endemol NV as soon as practicable after closing this transaction.


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imbX2007 takes on Digital Convergence

Singapore - The Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX), Asia's largest infocomm and media event, will take place from June 18-23 2007 in Singapore. The focus will be 'Digital Convergence in Reality'.

New conference and forums on emerging convergent issues and applications are introduced at imbX this year. These include the New Media Conference, examining the impact of user-generated content; the IPTV Forum, featuring insights on the deployment and marketing of IPTV services in Asia; and the Mobile TV Forum will showcase case studies and business models from successful mobile TV trials.

imbX includes the iX2007 Conference, CommunicAsia2007 Summit,
BroadcastAsia2007 International Conference, in addition to the imbX Ministerial Conference on ICT and the Asia Pacific Media Regulatory Roundtable.

This year's trade exhibitions will play host to a combined total of 30 group pavilions and 2,320 exhibiting companies.

CG Overdrive (or Computer Graphics Overdrive) will be held in conjunction with CommunicAsia, EnterpriseIT, InteractiveDME and BroadcastAsia for the first time - a reflection of the exploding interest in animation and demand for made-in-Asia animated content.

A High-definition (HD) TV studio will be a highlight at the show floor this year. The fully-functional 100 square metre studio will be equipped with HD equipment that showcases the end-to-end technology of this emerging new application.

The primary stakeholders in imbX are the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), the Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) and Singapore Exhibition Services (SES).


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Viacom and Septeni launch free mobile site in Japan

Tokyo - Viacom International Japan (VIJ) and Septeni Group (Septeni) have entered into a comprehensive marketing partnership to launch a new free mobile site, launching end June 2007.

VIJ, which has a range of content including MTV, will mainly develop and operate the media. Septeni will leverage its strength in internet advertising to oversee ad sales and revenue generation. The site will feature the MTV brand and have a 'My Page' creation service.


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Oprah switches to Hallmark in Asia as Star World welcomes The May Lee Show

Singapore-The Hallmark Channel has grabbed exclusive pan-regional cable and satellite rights in Asia to The Oprah Winfrey Show, which has been screening on Star World. In place of Oprah, Star World has launched a new, one-hour weekly talk show filmed in Singapore, The May Lee Show.
Channel owners Sparrowhawk Media concluded the Oprah deal with CBS Paramount International, international distributor of the long-running talk show, which will launch on the Hallmark Channel in Asia in June. Hallmark Channel Managing Director (Asia Pacific) Andrew Hannah said: "This is a truly fantastic deal - Oprah is, without question, one of the most influential names in television and we're delighted to have secured these rights."

Winfrey recently made a deal in the U.S. to extend her show until the 2010
- 2011 season, by which time it will have been on air for 25 years.

The May Lee Show launched on May 17 at 9 pm (HKT). May Lee is a veteran on air personality who's worked for CNN, CNBC and Oxygen Media. Explaining the change in programming, a spokeswoman said, "STAR WORLD is providing viewers with talk shows which are more relevant to the women of Asia today. The May Lee Show features interviews with celebrities as well as average women, whose stories the Asian viewer can identify with."
Among the show's guests will be Joan Chen, actress and film director/producer; Grace Cheng, financial expert and author of The Seven Winning Strategies for Trading Forex; Anita Kapoor, TV host and writer; and Annie Wang, social commentator and author of People's Republic of Desire.

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Eddie McGuire vacates CEO job at Nine Network

Sydney- Nine Network Australia Chief Executive Officer Eddie McGuire is stepping down after just 17 months in that role to resume his on-air career. McGuire hosts the game show 1 vs 100 but had relinquished presenting Who Wants to be a Millionaire and the AFL Footy Show when he took over as CEO.

Tellingly, he won't be replaced. "The existing Nine Network management team headed up by Jeffrey Browne (Executive Director) will take the Network forward," said Ian Law, CEO of PBL Media. "It has become clear over the past 12 months that Mr. McGuire's absence from on air as a key host has impacted on the ratings of the Network."

Law said McGuire will work closely with Director of Programming Michael Healy on concepts and ideas for new shows. McGuire, who steps down on June 30, revealed he has made a 5-year commitment to the network. "My best contribution to Nine is in the creative elements of the business and that has prompted this change," he said.

James Packer sold half of PBL Media, which houses the Nine Network, ACP Magazines and its stakes in ninemsn, carsales and myhome.com.au, to private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific for A$4.5 billion (US$3.6 billion) last year.
Two weeks ago, PBL split itself into two companies: gaming based in Crown and media based in Consolidated Media Holdings; McGuire wasn't given a role in the latter, implying his position had been downgraded to the point of
being obsolete.


Anytime on VOLT starts with a bolt

Sydney-The recent launch of Anytime on VOLT, a Video-on-Demand service from Anytime and Fairfax Digital, grabbed the attention of Australian internet users, debuting at fifth position in the Hitwise chart for the Shopping & Classifieds - Video and Games industry, with a 4.09% share for the week ending 21 April 2007. Blockbuster movies, TV shows, music videos and games are available on the on line channel in Australia and New Zealand, competing with bricks-and-mortar rental stores, Hitwise noted. Anytime on VOLT ranked ahead of established VoD providers Big Pond Movies at No. 7 and Reeltime at No. 81 for that week. Mail-order service EzyDVD was the leader in the Shopping & Classifieds - Video and Games category with a 10.55% share, and has been the No. 1 website based on monthly visits for the past
24 months.

BitTorrent.com ranked at #1095 in Hitwise's All Categories compared to #386 for EzyDvd for the week ending April 21. Google Australia was overwhelmingly the highest referrer of website traffic to BitTorrent.com with 43.48% upstream share for that week, followed by Google, Wikipedia and MySpace.

Joost, which also offers interactive software for distributing TV and video content on line, has started to pick up traction amongst Australian internet users, increasing its ranking in the Computers & Internet - Software category from #1061 for the week ending February 3 2007 to #532 for the week ending April 21.

More than a third of visitors to the Shopping & Classifieds - Video & Games category were in the 18-24 demo, attracting even numbers of female and male internet users.



BBC Entertainment acquires Derren Brown slate for Asia

Singapore - Psychological illusionist Derren Brown comes to BBC Entertainment in regional premieres of his British series.

Brown hosts a number of specials and series acquired by the channel exclusively for Asia. The titles, including Derren Brown: Trick Of The Mind; Russian Roulette; Séance: Messiah: Mind Control: Something Wicked This Way Comes; The Heist and The Series will premiere on BBC Entertainment in July.

Also new to BBC Entertainment and Asia is the Star Stories series - a six-part exposé of the world's top superstars including Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, Sadie Frost and Jude Law, George Michael and Victoria and David Beckham.
The series of Derren Brown programmes are by Objective Productions and Star Stories is a Channel Four production, both distributed by C4i.

Telemundo Internacional unveils LA Screenings slate

Miami - Telemundo Internacional has unveiled its catalogue of new productions for LA Screenings.

These include telenovela Sweet Secret, starring Carlos Ponce and Genesis Rodriguez, in which the sweet, but ugly, protagonist participates in a famous reality makeover show. Also Madre Luna, a telenovela of intense passion, between a mature woman of spectacular beauty, who ponders between the love of a much younger man and the hate she feels for his father, who once also loved her.

Also making its debut in LA is 4 lives.for love, a telenovela presenting modern topics that impact today's women, boasts an impressive cast including Gaby Espino (Mundo de Fieras) and Yvonne Montero (Anita don't give up).

Telemundo Internacional is also presenting three super productions, which will be revealed during LA Screenings. The company is also looking to identify new development ideas to create content and generate original and interesting business for the new television platforms.


Motion Picture Association unveils new anti-piracy trailer

Singapore - A new anti-piracy movie trailer was launched on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Motion Picture Association's (MPA) Asia Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore in 1982.

In conjunction with Singapore's Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), the new trailer aims to raise awareness of illegal movie camcording in cinemas.

Officiating at the launch of the MPA-produced trailer, which will be screened prior to feature film presentations in more than 180 cinemas nationwide, was Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee.

During the past 12 months, 20 instances of camcording have been reported or forensically matched to cinemas in the Asia-Pacific region. Worldwide, camcorded copies comprise around 90% of early release pirate discs.

"The Singapore government has done an exemplary job in intellectual property rights law enforcement and education, but the public has an important role to play in the fight against copyright theft, stepping up to recognize and reject criminal behavior," said Mike Ellis, MPA Senior Vice President and Regional Director, Asia-Pacific. "If movie pirates cannot find buyers for their goods, movie piracy will die."


i-CABLE to delist from NASDAQ

Hong Kong - i-CABLE Communications Limited (i-CABLE) has notified NASDAQ it wishes to delist its American Depositary Shares. An i-CABLE spokesman said the delisting was sought in view of limited trading volume of the ADSs and the time and cost of maintaining a listing in the U.S. i-CABLE plans to maintain its American Depositary Receipts (ADR) program in the U.S. but, where circumstances permit, may terminate the registration of its securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

i-CABLE's ordinary shares will continue to trade in the Hong Kong market.
The delisting is expected to take effect from June 8 2007, after which the ADRs will continue to be traded in over-the-counter markets.


E-Finet acquires Chinese games developer Hangzhou Tianchang

Hong Kong - E-Finet Group, a Hong Kong-based online financial information service provider in China, has acquired Chinese on line games developer Hangzhou Tianchang Network Technology Co. Ltd. for about US$26 million in cash.

Founded in 2005, Tianchang has created titles such as Tang Dynasty Online and has developed its own 3D online game engine. Finet said it will invest in development, marketing and licensing of Tianchang's titles.


STAR and Artificial Life to develop and distribute mobile games

Hong Kong / Taiwan - Hong Kong-based Artificial Life, Inc., a leading provider of mobile 3G technology, games and applications, and STAR TV have
agreed to jointly develop and distribute mobile games across Asia.
Artificial Life, Inc. will develop a range of interactive mobile games as well as mobile accessories such as wallpapers, ring-tones, video mails and screensavers based on Blackie's Teenage Club and Lollipop, two popular entertainment programmes on STAR's music service Channel [V] Taiwan. The mobile products will be jointly promoted and distributed by STAR and Artificial Life across the region.

Malaysian companies close US$69.3 million worth of deals at MIP TV

Cyberjaya - Malaysian companies closed deals for projects worth RM236 million (US$69.3 million) at MIPTV 2007, according to the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS), which led the Malaysian delegation at the market. Among the deals concluded:

- Elemental Ventures Sdn Bhd finalized an MoA with Entara Ltd (UK) for global distribution of a 2D/3D hybrid animation series (26 ep x 22 mins) Zoorocco, with a market value estimated at US$8 million.

- Vision New Media Sdn Bhd agreed to form a joint venture, New Vision Partners, with France's NPTV, to provide solutions to create instant downloadable rich-media applications for Java-enabled mobile phones for the global market.

- MyGo Solutions Sdn Bhd signed an MoA with Manach Ltd (Greece) to distribute and license Malaysian interactive games for Greece and other European markets, worth roughly $15 million.

- Rocket Fish Sdn Bhd and Creative Fuzion Sdn Bhd signed an MoA with Mediafreaks Cartoon Pte Ltd of Singapore to co-produce an $8 million, 72 x
7 mins pre-school series, The PUPU Squad. Rocket Fish also finalized an MoA with Canada's Kahani World Inc. to co-produce a $5 million, 66 minute Flash animation DVD, Warriors of Chaos.

-Inner Esteem Sdn Bhd pursued an MoA with Spain's Interclic SL for a distribution and licensing agreement of its markerless motion capture systems with an initial value of $3 million.

- Backbone Entertainment Sdn Bhd and Peppermint Enterprises Ltd & Co. KG
(Germany) agreed on a worldwide distribution venture for a $2 million Malaysian flash animation TV series, Sugar Pal.

- KRU Capital formed a JV company with Freja Gudsdotter TV of Sweden to co-produce and manage $6.4 million TV drama series Freja.

That's in addition to previously announced projects Hairy Legs (Creative Licence Sdn Bhd/ Southern Star Entertainment); and Essential Art of War (Les' Copaque Production Sdn Bhd/ Zhejiang Zhongnan Group Animation Video Co. Ltd.). Les' Copaque Production also did a deal with Voxell Group
(Latvia) to distribute in the USSR the Malaysian 3D animation title Gang.


MTV Boombox Korea upgrades for greater interaction

Singapore/Seoul- Celebrating the one-year anniversary of MTV Networks Korea's MTV Boombox, the blog-based social networking and streaming service is adding new offerings including games, an online video chart show covering cultural topics inspired by Korean trendsetters, animation produced by MTV Korea and Flux Japan, and user-created content.
Experiencing a rapid growth in page views, MTV Boombox has extended its reach as part of the recently launched MTView, an aggregated video-sharing service formed by an alliance of web services and content providers including Empas and Joins.com.
Asked if there were plans to roll out MTV Boombox in other markets, Jihee Nam, VP Digital Media, MTV Networks Asia, said: "The digital offerings we have in Korea is part of our global roll-out of MTVN's multi-platform digital services. What we launch where is driven by local relevance. We are tasked to continue to build out mobile TV and broadband platforms in local markets as they become ready technically and commercially."

Warner Bros. and Animal Logic to keep playing "happy feet"

Burbank/Sydney- Warner Bros. Pictures and Australian-based digital production company Animal Logic have signed a deal to develop and co-produce animated feature films. This follows their successful collaboration on Happy Feet and 300, and on earlier WB films including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded.

The partners say they have three projects in the development pipeline, the titles will be announced in the coming months, and Warner will have worldwide distribution rights for all films produced through the deal.

For Happy Feet, Animal Logic grew from being primarily a visual effects company to a fully operational animation studio, boosting core crew from 150 to more than 500 at the peak of production.


ABC orders East of Everything

Sydney- Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Susie Porter (RAN, Little Fish), Tom Long (SeaChange) and Gia Carides (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) head the cast of ABC TV drama series East of Everything, which begins filming in Byron Bay on the northern coast of NSW on June 4.

The 6 x 1 hour series was created by writers Deb Cox, co-creator and writer of SeaChange, Simone de Beauvoir's Babies and After the Deluge) and Roger Monk, who wrote and co-produced the feature film Walking on Water and was a writer on The Secret Life of Us. Producer is Fiona Eagger (CrashBurn, The Society Murders), their long-term collaborator.

East of Everything focuses on Art Watkins, a globe-trotting travel writer who is summonsed back to Broken Bay, a neglected resort and former "hippie"
hang-out where he grew up, after his mother dies.


Southern Star puts the cuffs on City Homicide

Sydney- Southern Star International has collared worldwide sales rights to the new Australian cop drama City Homicide.

Due to debut on the Seven Network later this year, the series created by John Hugginson and John Banas examines cases through the eyes of four young detectives and their superiors.

The cast includes Shane Bourne (Thank God You're Here), Nadine Garner (Blue Water High), Noni Hazelhurst (Little Fish), Daniel McPherson (The Bill) and Aaron Pederson (The Secret Life of Us). Southern Star International will launch the series at MIPCOM 2007.


Toei Animation jumps into licensing and merchandising

Los Angeles-- Toei Animation Inc. has expanded into the licensing and merchandising business by creating an in-house consumer products licensing division headed by Coy Edmunds, the unit's newly appointed Director of Business Development and Licensing. Headquartered in Toei's Los Angeles offices, the licensing operation will focus on the US and will launch with the licensing representation of Toei's popular Digimon brand. The new Toei licensing operation will make its debut at the New York International Licensing Show being held June 19-21.

Edmunds joins Toei Animation from Focus Sports management, Inc. (Los Angeles), where he served as a director and agent for the sports management organization. He previously served as Marketing Manager for United Global Artists (Tokyo), where he developed and executed numerous entertainment and sports-based promotional events.

"With the formation of an in-house licensing unit, Toei Animation becomes a fully integrated kids-based entertainment studio that develops, produces, distributes and controls the licensing and merchandising for our brands,"
said Yosuke Kobayashi, President and COO of Toei Animation, Inc.



People on the Move


Walt Disney Co's Cheung upped to Greater China role

Hong Kong - The Walt Disney Company has expanded China country manager Stanley Cheung's role to Executive Vice President and Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company Greater China.

Covering China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (excluding Hong Kong Disneyland), Shanghai-based Chueng reports to Andy Bird, president, Walt Disney International.

"International expansion and growth of the Disney brand in emerging markets is a key priority for the company. This new Greater China structure, headed by Stanley Cheung, will enhance integration and leverage operations across our lines of business to maximize business opportunities in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan," said Bird.

The expansion of the role comes just two years after Cheung was appointed as the first China country head for the company. He will have full operational responsibility in driving and coordinating the company's strategies and business efforts including overseeing Disney's global brands in the market, expanding existing businesses and identifying new business opportunities.

TVB Pay Vision hires Eric Yeung as Chief Executive Officer

Hong Kong- Eric Yeung has been named Chief Executive Officer of TVB Pay Vision Limited, effective May 22, 2007. The pay-TV service had been overseen by Chief Operating Officer Jackey Chan, who left the company at the end of April.
The CEO position was left vacant after Jim Blomfield departed in 2004.

Yeung has more than 20 years experience in print media, radio and television. Most recently he was the Assistant to Group Managing Director and Acting General Manager of RoadShow Holdings Limited.


MGM names Gary Marenzi Co-President Worldwide Television

Los Angeles - Veteran TV executive Gary Marenzi has rejoined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) as Co-President of Worldwide Television, sharing overall responsibility for the division with Jim Packer.

Together the two execs will oversee the studio's television sales operations, with Marenzi focusing on the international marketplace. Packer will focus on television distribution, channels and digital media for North America.

The Co-Presidents report directly to MGM Chief Operating Officer Rick Sands. Both will be based at the studio's headquarters in Century City.

Sands said the company was pleased to have Marenzi re-joining the MGM team, adding that his knowledge of the marketplace and his experience with distributing the MGM assets would bolster their position in television around the world.


TV-Loonland taps new Head of Development

Munich/Paris- TV-Loonland has appointed Damien Tromel as its new Head of Creative Affairs and Development, based in the company's Paris office.
Tromel is responsible for sourcing new projects, finding new talent and supervising all editorial matters regarding the development and production of all the projects produced and co-produced by TV-Loonland.

He's worked for various production companies including Marathon, Alphanim, Ellipsanime and Klasky Csupo, and on hit shows such as Totally Spies, Robot Boy, Martin Mystery and Pirate Family.