FYI 10.14.2009

Metan Has Rights for "Guiding Light" and "As The World Turns" in China; Car Sales Reach Record High; and Baidu Launches Wireless Search in Japan.

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Metan Development Group has signed a deal with Power to become the exclusive distributor of popular soap operas "Guiding Light" and "As The World Turns" in China. Both shows are produced by TeleNext Media, Inc. for Procter & Gamble Productions.

Metan will be the exclusive distributor for 130 episodes of each series in China, marking the first time either soap opera has run in that market.

"China's vast TV and new media market has great potential," said George Sakkalli, Power's VP, Asia and the Middle East.

P&G traditionally uses "Guiding Light," "As The World Turns," and other daytime dramas to advertise household and beauty products to the housewives who watch TV during the day. But the U.S. company hasn't decided whether it will follow that tradition in China. CBS, which airs P&G-owned "Guiding Light," cancelled the series in September 2009 due to low ratings, but after airing on TV for 57 years, there are plenty of episodes for China.

"We are aware of the introduction of these soap operas into China. At P&G, we are always looking out for ways to better connect with consumers. Right now we do not have a business decision on this yet," said spokesman Charles Zhang in Guangzhou.
The number of passenger cars sold monthly in China passed the one million car mark in September 2009, including sports utility vehicles and multi-purpose vehicles, marking the first time monthly sales in China exceeded seven figures. Sales rose 83.6% from the same month last year to 1.02 million vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. In August 2009, Chinese car makers sold 858,300 cars, up from 552,800 in August last year.

Car companies have performed well all year, largely because China's government dramatically reduced the purchase tax on small cars to boost the economy. But late summer and early fall are traditionally a peak sales period for dealers, because China celebrates a week-long holiday in early October and Chinese increasingly want to take road trips to explore their own country.

Volkswagen Group and its two joint ventures, Shanghai Volkswagen and FAW-Volkswagen, sold 1,061,964 cars in mainland China and Hong Kong in the first nine months of 2009, a 37% increase that easily tops total 2008 sales.

VW's chief rival in that market, General Motors Co., announced sales in mainland China rose 55% to nearly 1.3 million vehicles during the first nine months of the year.

Consumer confidence in China's economy and increased financing options have also contributed to the rise in car sales, which include luxury brands that weren't part of the government's tax incentive program. Sales of Mercedes-Benz cars, for example, surged 50% to 37,800 units during the first eight months of this year, and BMW saw sales grow 31.3% to 54,263 units.
Baidu, the leading Chinese-language internet search site, has launched a beta version of its wireless search service in Japan. It will build on existing Baidu.jp services, including web search, and image and video searches, with special features tailored to Japanese users.

Japan's 3G user base has surpassed 100 million, over 90% of the country's population, and wireless internet is used by more than 80% of internet users. JOne of the world's most sophisticated 3G countries, Japan is a tought market for foreign companies, mostly because Japan is so far ahead of the rest of the world and many of the handsets and operating systems used there don't work outside Japan.

"We believe there is huge demand for a high quality wireless search service" in Japan, said Xuyang Ren, Baidu's VP of marketing and business development. But he admitted Baidu will need to further develop its services and fine tune its understanding of user preferences to succeed in Japan.


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