Turner's Soumitra Saha

Other news in Greater China

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HONG KONG--Turner Entertainment Networks Asia has promoted Hong Kong-based Soumitra Saha, 35, to senior VP and general manager for Asia from senior VP- regional advertising sales and marketing.

In his new role, Mr. Saha, who is known as “Sunny,” will be in charge of developing Turner's entertainment brands in Asia/Pacific, including Boomerang, Cartoon Network, Pogo and Turner Classic Movies. He succeeds Ian Diamond, who resigned last year after 13 years with Turner overall and seven at the helm of TENA in Asia.

Mr. Saha joined Turner in Mumbai as director of research and strategic planning in August 2000, overseeing and developing research initiatives in India. He also helped Turner Broadcasting System launch of its HBO movie channel in India. In 2003, he relocated to Hong Kong as VP-advertising sales, also overseeing promotional licensing.

Three years later, he also took over the division’s marketing operations. During the past seven years, he was instrumental in the launch of TENA’s Indian kids’ channel, Pogo, as well as Galli Galli Sim Sim, a Hindi-language version of the American children’s show, Sesame Street.

Cartoon Network is available in 96 million homes through eight feeds distributed in more than 15 countries and territories in Asia/ Pacific, including branded programming blocks and hotel rooms. Its 24-hour channel can be viewed in 51 million homes in the region.

Since Mr. Saha joined Turner, however, the industry has changed dramatically with the rise of digital media. Now in charge of TENA across Asia, he is looking at basic cable and satellite opportunities.

“Even before I took over, we were already in the process of change, looking at the brands as things that exist not just on television but beyond. This is something I’m going to push to the maximum,” he said.

“Talking about our business across the region, web traffic for our Cartoon Network web sites is growing, we’re holding events like school contact tours, and we’re developing our mobile business. We’re also focused on acquiring content, both animated and live action movies. We want to turn Cartoon Network into a superbrand.”

That, he added, requires aggregating content and properties across platforms including the internet, narrowband and broadband wireless content, publishing, consumer products, promotional licensing and live events.

This is especially true in China. All foreign media brands have struggled to get their content and channels into the mainland. But children’s channels are the biggest challenge. Cartoon Network used to broadcast on one of China Central Television’s kids’ channels until the Chinese government in 2006 banned foreign cartoons from China’s airwaves.

Cartoon Network’s programming is no longer officially available in the mainland, but the network is expanding in other directions, like publishing comic books, retailing through Warner Bros. Studio stores, and digital media.

Two months ago, for example, Turner signed an agreement to distribute Cartoon Network mobile content with Duo Guo, a Shanghai-based operator of branded retail stores exclusively selling mobile content and services.

“This gives us access to a very big consumer base, since there are over 500 million mobile users in China,” Mr. Saha said.

Through Duo Guo's kiosks in high traffic areas such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour, cartoons like The Powerpuff Girls, Tom & Jerry and Scooby-Doo will be available for download for China’s almost 500 million mobile consumers.

Through its network of stores in high-traffic areas near hypermarkets, Duo Guo sells “digital candy” or “d candy,” a selection of games, ringtones, videos, software and other Cartoon Network content. These mobile offerings range in price from RMB2 (US$0.30) for color wallpapers to RMB15 (US$2) for themes.

“Not only are we able to get an advantage in the selection and purchasing process, but we also have better control of how we showcase our Cartoon Network brand to our consumers and gain feedback to further better serve our loyal consumers,” said Ringo Chan, Turner’s VP-wireless and interactive content, development and distribution in Hong Kong.

Other appointment news in Greater China

[shanghai] DDB Worldwide has promoted Jesse Lin to managing director of its Shanghai office, a new position, from regional business director. He joined DDB in June 2006, from managing director of Wieden+Kennedy’s Shanghai office.

[guangzhou] Nurun has appointed Guangzhou-based Premprapa Bankes-Milner as national client services director, China, a new position. Previously, she was a regional account director at Young & Rubicam, Hong Kong, where she looked after the agency’s Colgate-Palmolive business in Asia/Pacific.
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