By WATCHIRANONT THONGTEP
Last week, at the channel’s newly renovated Indo-China bureau on the seventh floor of Maneeya Centre North, The Nation had an exclusive discussion with Debra Soon, head of news at Singapore-based MediaCorp, to hear about her company’s next milestone amid rapid change in the media landscape and the vibrant regional economy.
"We want to conquer the world and to be seen in the world," Soon, who also serves as managing director of Channel NewsAsia, said in offering up the next phase for Asia’s home-grown regional news broadcaster.
With advanced technology, she explained, the Internet and online community would allow Channel NewsAsia to be seen and reached by global audiences without any expansion in terms of the establishment of costly new bureaus in Europe or the Americas.
However, content is always king, she stressed.
Channel NewsAsia, therefore, keeps improving and developing its news gathering in the region to help the world understand Asia, particularly after the Asean Economic Community is integrated into a single market by the end of this year.
To turn vision into reality and become the global leading news authority on Asia, Soon said the company had to have its ears to the ground.
Having the Bangkok office as its IndoChina bureau was insufficient for Channel NewsAsia in terms of covering all of Southeast Asia, particularly emerging countries like Myanmar and Vietnam, she said.
"We need to place our resources on the ground, as we believe that news covering by parachute or fly-in when an event surfaces is not enough for us," she explained.
Last year, Channel NewsAsia added a bureau in Myanmar to its network, and in the next three weeks its 14th bureau in Asia will be officially opened in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi.
"This will help us gain a better understanding of those growing economies that both international and regional investors, as well as general audiences, are keen on," she said.
Besides adding these offices, the Singaporean news broadcaster is very active in organising events in every part in the region in order to get deeper engagement with the local business and political communities, as well as related sectors.
Via such a series of events, the company also reaps a commercial benefit for its business operations, she added, citing last week’s "Thailand Business Insight" seminar at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok as an example.
"We also have to boost resources in our existing bureaus in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok. Each of these offices has been renovated and equipped with satellite studios, with twin robotic cameras that can be controlled from our headquarters in Singapore," said the executive.
This enhancement has added capacity and polish to what the newscaster does, in order to better serve more than 58 million households in 26 countries and territories, she said.
Asked what has made Channel NewsAsia a success during its 16 years as a broadcaster, its chief said: "It is about believing in our mission and what we want to do, and then having a leadership to drive it through and execute it via teamwork."
Channel NewsAsia is not in existence solely for Singapore’s 5 million residents, but for all Asians as an Asian window to the world, she said.
According to the "Ipsos Affluent Survey" last year, Channel NewsAsia was ranked the fourth most-watched international news channel in Asia, after CNN International, BBC World News and CNBC.