Former News Corp. executive Martin Pompadur, E! Entertainment Television co-founder Larry Namer and Chinese business consultant Jean Zhang have launched Metan Development Group to develop and distribute entertainment content and media for the Chinese market.
Metan will also create and distribute original internet and mobile content for new TV properties it is developing, such as Hollywood Today, Music News, World Film News and World Sports Report.
Most of the programming will be available by early 2010, but Metan hopes to debut Hollywood Today, a daily 15-minute program with entertainment and celebrity news from Los Angeles, later this year. The show will feature two anchors reporting from Metan's Beijing studios and Mandarin-speaking field reporters in the U.S.
The content is being created in China to appeal to mainland Chinese but will be sold in all territories with significant Chinese speaking populations, in the rest of Asia as well as outside the region.
Metan is developing strategic brand initiatives to bring advertisers into its programming. It has signed Mulholland Drive Entertainment (MDE) as its branded entertainment agency in North America.
The team will also use its relationships with local media companies such as China Central Television (CCTV) and the China Association of Film, Radio and Television to help other content creators and owners to sell their programming to Chinese broadcasters. China has over 500 city and 3,000 county TV stations, in addition to CCTV and provincial TV stations.
While the larger stations do have access to global brands and receive some advertising revenue, "the smaller stations have only limited access to international programming, even though they possess a larger local viewer base," said Xia Zhifang, assistant secretary of the China Association of Radio & Television. The smaller stations lack access to good content, "as well as the chance to partake in the advertising revenues that top brands are now allocating to the region."
Metan is focusing on China, even though most of its senior management lives in California, because the mainland "is clearly a growing consumer market. Western brands have a type and level of entertainment product that they like to put their brand next to which provides the early on revenue streams," said Mr. Namer. He came up with the idea during a stint teaching young Chinese TV executives in Shanghai.
In addition to his western TV experience at companies like E! Entertainment, Mr. Namer spent 15 years pioneering the post-Communist TV industry in Russia through Comspan Communications, a company he created to introduce western entertainment to the former Soviet Union. Russia and China have many similarities "in terms of how the process of transformation occurs."
Until Mr. Pompadur resigned in November 2008, he was chairman of News Corp.'s operation in Europe. Ms. Zhang is the founder of AmeriLink Group, a business-consulting firm based in San Francisco, specializing in promoting business and cultural cooperation between government officials and business executives in China and the U.S.
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