Time drawn to India's more open market

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2005, 12:00am

Time Warner chairman and chief executive Richard Parsons yesterday singled out India as a more attractive market for media investments than China, citing its more transparent regulatory environment.

The head of the world's largest media group was in Hong Kong to speak at a lunch meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce and the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia.

'In India, the government is working hard to improve the infrastructure,' Mr Parsons said, adding that a much more open regulatory environment could prompt Time Warner to invest more there.

China, however, was a 'tough' market to enter.

'China is a market with growth dynamics but a very tough market. We need to have a long-term investment and a long-term view of the China market because the government censors the message we carry,' Mr Parsons said. 'We need to develop a strategy and relationships with local parties to work with the government and wait for it to gradually open up the market.'

Moreover, Time Warner was also facing the threat of piracy to its movie business and intellectual property rights remained a thorny issue for the media giant, he said.

'It's a great problem. In China, there are annual sales of more than one billion DVDs and more than 95 per cent are pirated.'

The company had to work with the central government to deal with the issue, Mr Parsons said.

Time Warner's Cartoon Network is the leading children's channel in India, according to media research firm Media Partners Asia executive director Vivek Courto, who added he was not surprised by the focus from Time Warner on India rather than China.

'India is a better media market than China, since the regulatory environment is much more favourable for global media firms,' Mr Courto said.

The comments from Mr Parsons follow remarks from News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch who last month criticised Beijing for reversing a policy of relaxing controls on international organisations.

Time Warner has been paving a way into China for several years. However, the mainland's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television earlier this year said that foreign media firms would not be allowed to operate satellite television channels until further notice.