BBC aims to tune into wider market in Asia

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 12:00am

BBC World plans to expand its Asian network coverage through more local partnerships but does not expect to tackle the China market in the near term.

'It depends how the market evolves and develops - we want to be involved with as many of the platforms and players as possible . . . across the region,' BBC World head of network development for Asia, Nic van Zwanenberg said.

In Hong Kong, BBC World is distributed on a Cable-TV channel owned by Wharf (Holdings). 'We definitely want to stay with them,' Mr van Zwanenberg said.

BBC World is seeking additional partnerships in Hong Kong and may negotiate with some of the five new pay-television operators awarded licences in July.

'We don't know what their propositions are going to be yet - whether they are going to be truly interactive or on-demand services or just pure cable bundles,' he said.

The BBC will concentrate on expanding its network in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Singapore in the near term.

'It is not part of my strategy to have China as No 1 because it is a long-term relationship . . . and the relationship has got to build,' Mr van Zwanenberg said.

The appointment of Mr van Zwanenberg, who is based in Hong Kong, is a new position created to further network development in the region. Network development in other parts of the globe is handled from London.

In China, BBC World does not have a licence to broadcast via cable-TV but recently obtained permission to provide the channel in hotels.

BBC World's weekly viewership among business decision-makers has risen 11 per cent across Asia in the past year to 181,015, according to figures from Asia Market Intelligence.

Competitor CNN's weekly viewership figure among the same group rose 4 per cent to 463,477 and CNBC's dropped 9 per cent to 190,735.

The BBC recently moved its regional news bureau to Singapore from Hong Kong, believing the city-state was better positioned to cover Asia.

The BBC maintains correspondents in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai and other north Asian cities.