SPH MediaWorks

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SPH MediaWorks Ltd (Chinese: 报业传讯; pinyin: bào yè chuán xùn) was an ephemeral free-to-air terrestrial television broadcaster in Singapore. In 6 May 2001, SPH MediaWorks brought 2 alternative free-to-air terrestrial television channels to the audience in Singapore, operating SPH MediaWorks Channel U and SPH MediaWorks Channel i.

A subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) through SPH Multimedia Ltd, SPH MediaWorks was originally set up to create variety and healthy competition with MediaCorp TV Singapore Pte Ltd (MediaCorp TV), MediaCorp TV12 Singapore Pte Ltd (MediaCorp TV12), and MediaCorp News Pte Ltd (MediaCorp News).

SPH MediaWorks was widely praised for injecting more variety in local programming and for its creative innovations.

On 1 January 2005, SPH MediaWorks had its tearful closing ceremony, dissolving and disestablishing off the air and concluded with a closedown sign-off, in the early morning of final ceased transmission and died to exist upon the merging of operations with MediaCorp Television Broadcasting Arm (MediaCorp TV, MediaCorp TV12, and MediaCorp News), MediaCorp Studios Pte Ltd (MediaCorp Studios), and MediaCorp EagleVision Pte Ltd (MediaCorp EagleVision).

Merger

On 17 September 2004, however, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and MediaCorp Singapore Pte Ltd (MediaCorp) announced that both companies had entered an agreement on merging the television operations of the two companies, of which operates the mainstream free-to-air terrestrial channels; MediaCorp TV Channel 5, MediaCorp TV Channel 8, MediaCorp TV TVMobile, SPH MediaWorks Channel U (优频道) and SPH MediaWorks Channel i.

The other free-to-air terrestrial channels, MediaCorp TV12 Suria and MediaCorp TV12 Central run by MediaCorp TV12 and MediaCorp News Channel NewsAsia by MediaCorp News remained wholly owned and run by MediaCorp Pte Ltd, in contrast to the channels owned by MediaCorp TV Pte Ltd under the holding company of MediaCorp Television Broadcasting Arm (A MediaCorp Channel) as of 1 January 2005; MediaCorp Television Broadcasting Arm were 80% managed by MediaCorp and 20% by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) through SPH Multimedia Ltd. The merger was seen as a move to reduce the losses faced by SPH since the launch of SPH MediaWorks Channel U and SPH MediaWorks Channel I, and to reduce the losses in the free newspaper market of "Today" faced by MediaCorp.

Apart from the merging of local television operations, the merging package includes the merging of the free newspaper operations of both MediaCorp and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). Streats, managed by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) was merged into “Today”; Streats will cease its independent publication upon the completion of the merger. “Today” continues to be managed by MediaCorp solely.

The merger of the two companies was also the first of its kind in history; a merger between a government unit and a private organization. It is inevitable, as Singapore free to air television market is small. The fact that SPH MediaWorks keeps operating their broadcast business at a loss makes merger with MediaCorp, a larger more established broadcast giant a viable solution.

Milestones

On 31 March 2000, Mr Lee Cheok Yew was appointed as the CEO of SPH MediaWorks Ltd. Mr Man Shu Sum and some of the MediaCorp artistes joined from SPH MediaWorks the former as Chief Operating Officer of MediaCorp.

On 6 May 2001, SPH MediaWorks Channel U, a Mandarin channel and its English counterpart as SPH MediaWorks TV Works were launched.

On 3 October 2001, SPH Radio Broadcasting Arm a joint management between SPH Multimedia and NTUC Media was launched as SPH UnionWorks; owns, manages, and operates UFM 1003 and WKRZ 91.3FM. Both radio stations were simply re-branded and resume operations of Heart 100.3FM and 91.3FM previously wholly owned by NTUC Media.

On 3 March 2002, SPH MediaWorks TV Works was renamed SPH MediaWorks Channel i.

On 4 December 2002, MediaWorks won the "Broadcaster of the Year" award in "Asia Television Awards". Channel U also bagged the "Channel of the Year" award.

Channel U too organises a charity show, "Ren Ci Charity Show", shortly after being named the Broadcaster of the Year. Ren Ci Charity Show bears similarity to those hosted by MediaCorp. Audience will be fed with intense performance presented by actors, actress and guest and encouraged to donate, commonly through telephone or mobile phone. However, this program does not make use of material incentive to encourage donations unlike any other charity shows going on then. With the great team effort of the Mediaworks team in both years of the show under SPH MediaWorks donations broke previously set records.

Mr Lee Cheok Yew resigned as CEO of SPH MediaWorks on 1 April 2003.

Channel i News won the "Best News Programme" of "Asia Television Awards" on 19 December 2003.

On 17 September 2004, MediaCorp CEO Ernest Wong struck a deal with SPH CEO Alan Chen to merge their mass-market television and free newspaper. The two media companies have previously been scathed and stifled by stiff and unhealthy competition from each other and the merger is widely seen as inevitable. MediaCorp Television Broadcasting Arm will be created upon the completion of merging. MediaCorp will have an 80% management while Singapore Press Holdings will own the remainder.

On 31 December 2004, MediaCorp and Singapore Press Holdings jointly announced that the merger is legally completed and that SPH MediaWorks Channel i after being seen as not commercially viable to maintain the channel (mainly due to the small English language television market in Singapore) was closing. It ceased transmission on Saturday (Weekend), 1 January 2005 at 01:30 am early dawn morning time (UTC+8).

Conclusion

Despite being in the market for merely four years, MediaWorks had managed to emerge as an eminent competitor to the more established MediaCorp.

Channel U was much praised for pioneering Mandarin-dubbed Korean dramas as well as Taiwanese television serials in their programmes. For example the TVB longest running drama series A Kindred Spirit was highly popular, and resulted in the rival company MediaCorp producing local marathon family drama series like Holland V and Double Happiness.

List of channels (until 31 December 2004)

This was the second Mandarin television channel in Singapore, which became defunct on 1 January 2005 after being transferred to Mediacorp's management under the MediaCorp TV Channel U name.

This was the second English television channel in Singapore, that ceased operations on 1 January 2005, due to the merger between SPH Mediaworks and Mediacorp. Its terrestrial frequency was re-used by (or this channel was replaced together with Kids Central and Arts Central under the) MediaCorp TV12 okto 3 years later.

Channel U Programmes

Dramas

Programme Title Telecast date Episodes Telecast slot
English Chinese From To Day Time
Making Headlines 独家头条 2001   13    
Touched 情色男女 2001   13    
Ad War 完美把戏 2001   26    
Apple Pie 苹果派 2001   13    
She Drives Me Crazy 爱上女车长 2002   4    
Back To Basics 重进森林 2002   5    
Be Somebody 海军 2003   6    
Project J 水母计划 2003   6    
Seventh Month 2003   7    
Wonderful Life 奇妙餐厅 2001   13    
Frontline 家在前线 2003   6    
Together Whenever 天伦 2003   42    
OK No Problem OK没问题 2003   60    
Money No Problem 恭喜发财 2004   50    
Happy Family 原氏一家人 2001   26    
Heal And Be Healed 奇症能医 2004   20    
Perfect Woman 完美女人 2003   50    
Zero 零楼 2004   20    
Changing Lane 易心人 2004   27    
Cash Is King 胜券在握 2002   40    
Power Of Love 甜蜜风暴 2004   38    
Venture Against Time 子是故人来 2003   40    
Westside Story 西街少年 2002   25    
Healing Hearts 侠骨仁心 2001   30    
Romance of the Book and Sword 书剑恩仇录 2003   40    
Heroes of Yang 杨门女将 2002   30    
Happy And Lucky 吉祥如意 2004   35    

Variety

Channel i

TV Works

Artists

Left for MediaCorp (Pre-Merger)

Transferred to MediaCorp

Transferred to Singapore Press Holdings

  • Arnold Gay – Now with Kiss 92FM since its launch on September 3, 2012
  • Lin Wanfei 林琬绯
  • Lina Ng 黄嫊方 - to marketing, subsequently to UnionWorks UFM100.3
  • Evelyn Tan- to circulation, subsequently resigned
  • Wang Yanqing – to print, subsequently to UnionWorks UFM100.3
  • Zhang Haijie 张海洁 (Helen Cheung) – Offered a contract to MediaCorp, but chose to join UnionWorks UFM100.3 instead. Later rejoined MediaCorp's news division.
  • Zhou Huimin (Chew Huoy Min) – to print

On retainer

Not offered/Chose not to accept a contract

  • Bernard Tan 陈川之 – Acts part-time with MediaCorp while maintaining his business in the financial planning industry
  • Chen Huihui 陈慧慧 – Currently runs a chain of spas; acts with MediaCorp on a per-project basis
  • Fu Aini
  • Benjamin Heng 王智国 – project-based artiste with MediaCorp
  • Ericia Lee – now with Dream Forest
  • David Leong
  • Li Wenhai 李文海 - Acts with MediaCorp on a per-project basis
  • Adrian Lim – currently the Design Director for TWG Tea.
  • Cherie Lim
  • Liu Qiulian 刘秋莲 - retired from showbiz
  • Johnson Low
  • Ann Poh
  • Xavier Teo
  • Darren Seah
  • Dick Su
  • Wang Liuyan
  • Wymen Yong
  • Peter Yu 宏荣

See also