Now pummels Cable TV on the news front

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2007, 12:00am
 

I-Cable Communications' Cable TV, still trying to recover from the loss to rival PCCW Now TV of rights to show English Premier League football games, is taking a beating on another front. Now TV's Business News Channel has surpassed i-Cable News Channel in terms of ratings.

Sources told Media Eye that Now Business News Channel had been the most watched of all pay-television news channels since June.

Independent rating agency CSM included Now TV in a recent survey for the ratings data along with Television Broadcasts, Asia Television and i-Cable.

'A pilot test survey last month by CSM that included Now TV showed Now Business News Channel beating i-Cable News Channel in the afternoon and prime-time slot at night,' a source said.

An internal survey by PCCW echoed the pilot test results. The Business News Channel rated higher than i-Cable's financial news channel in September last year and beat i-Cable's news channel in June. Sources declined to give the figures until CSM announced the ratings.

'We only took 18 months to win over i-Cable. This should benefit our advertising income,' a source said.

I-Cable, seeking to regain advertisers' confidence, said this week its viewership was the highest among all pay-television platforms, drawing more than 81 per cent of the viewership among the 1.43 million sample subscribers' base for the year to June. Citing the Nielsen Media Index, it said rivals had viewerships of 38 per cent to 64 per cent.

I-Cable said its news channel had a daily audience base of 772,000 in the surveyed period.

'Our news channel's audience coverage is much wider than radio and newspapers,' Hong Kong Cable Enterprises general manager Sam Tsang said yesterday.

Golden Harvest's Chow sells out

Raymond Chow Ting-hsing, the former chairman and founder of Golden Harvest Entertainment (Holdings), announced his retirement last week by selling his stake in the firm to Chengtian Entertainment Group, owned by Wu Kebo.

Mr Chow will pocket about HK$200 million from his 25 per cent stake in Golden Harvest, which has financed and made more than 600 films since its founding in 1970.

Chengtian, a mainland group whose interests include film production and distribution, will take control of the company.

Media Eye has learned another entertainment group, Huayi Brothers, had also expressed interest in Golden Harvest before Chengtian won the blessing from Mr Chow.

One reason for Chengtian - whose artists include Hong Kong's Gigi Kwan, Carina Lau and Tony Leung Ka-fai - emerging as the winning suitor was its business model was like Golden Harvest's.

'Chengtian has been in the mainland entertainment business for many years,' Mr Chow said at a press conference on Monday. 'As we share the same view on developing the movie business in China, I decided to sell my company to Chengtian's Mr Wu.'

He did not elaborate much on how well he knew Mr Wu to the extent of having the confidence to sell him his life's work.

Mr Chow, who turned 80 in May, only said: 'When I celebrated my 80th birthday, I found that I was really very old. I have been in the industry for decades, and it's time to step down and let the younger generation run the business.'

Mr Wu has been in the industry for many years.

Chengtian to meet HK press

Chengtian is planning to meet the press in Hong Kong this week. Even so, Media Eye found it surprising the companies did not host a joint press conference about the deal.

Mr Chow is a movie icon in Hong Kong while Mr Wu is a rising mainland media tycoon. It would have been ideal to see them together in the same event.

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