SPH MediaWorks Ltd (Chinese: 报业传讯; pinyin: bào yè chuán xùn) was a free-to-air terrestrial television broadcaster in Singapore that operated two television channels: Channel U and Channel i. It merged with the city-state's long-established broadcasting company, Mediacorp, in 2004.
|Fate||Merged with MediaCorp (2005 to 2017)|
|Founded||8 June 2000|
The company was founded by Singapore Press Holdings on 8 June 2000, and appointed local television industry veteran Lee Cheok Yew as its CEO. By October of the same year, the company announced that five actors and actresses: Kym Ng, Bryan Wong, Darren Lim, Wang Yuqing and Guo Liang have joined their ranks.
In November that same year, six actors and actresses from the company's Chinese Media and Entertainment division attended training sessions in China and Taiwan, and two journalists have joined their television news division. By December, the company announced that five English-speaking actors and actresses, including local comedy star Adrian Pang, have joined their ranks.
On 26 April 2001, the Singapore Broadcasting Authority (now Media Development Authority) announce it has issued a Nationwide Free-To-Air Television Service Licence to SPH MediaWorks. According to the terms of the license, the company will operate two channels: Channel U and TV Works, from May that same year.
In November 2001, viewing figures cited by Singapore Press Holdings show Channel U as the second most watched television station in Singapore, That same year, 73 employees were laid off from MediaWorks, due to a restructuring exercise at TV Works, as well as a weak advertising market.
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 Channel 5, Mediacorp Channel 8, TVMobile, SPH MediaWorks Channel U (优频道) and SPH MediaWorks Channel i.
The other free-to-air terrestrial channels, Mediacorp Suria and Mediacorp TV12 Central run by Mediacorp TV12 and 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.
Subsequent divestment from Mediacorp
On 25 August 2017, SPH announced that it will divest its shares from Mediacorp, which are 20 percent in Mediacorp TV and 40 percent in Mediacorp Press in a move to focus on its core media businesses. Mediacorp will thus acquire these stakes for S$18 million, resulting in both companies being full subsidiaries of Mediacorp when completed. This comes after Mediacorp announced that it will stop publishing Today as a hardcopy and go fully digital from end-September 2017, coming as more readers are inclined towards consuming news digitally. The digitalisation of Today will result in 40 roles being made redundant. In addition, Mediacorp not publish any soft copy or digital format of Today similar to a hardcopy newspaper for five years. The acquisition of SPH's stakes is completed on 29 September 2017, thus returning to 2000 when media competition had not started yet.
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 Channel I 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 organises a charity show too, "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 struck a deal with SPH 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 remaining 20%.
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).
This was the second English television channel in Singapore. It ceased operations on 1 January 2005 when SPH Mediaworks and Mediacorp merged. Its terrestrial frequency was re-used. Channel i, Kids Central and Arts Central were merged to form Okto three years later.
- "SPH Launches new Broadcasting and Entertainment Subsidiary". Singapore Press Holdings. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. 8 June 2000. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- "MediaCorp And Singapore Press Holdings Merge Their TV And Free Newspaper Operations". Singapore Press Holdings. 17 September 2004. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "SPH MediaWorks stars all ready to shine". Singapore Press Holdings. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. 2 October 2000. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- "MediaWorks artistes share their learning experiences in Taipei/Shanghai". Singapore Press Holdings. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. 1 December 2000. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- "Broadcast Journalists Join SPH TV News". Singapore Press Holdings. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. 30 November 2000. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- "TV Works unveils five artistes at A Party with The Difference". Singapore Press Holdings. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. 5 December 2000. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- "Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) issues Broadcast Licence to SPH Mediaworks". Singapore Broadcasting Authority (now Infocomm Media Development Authority). 26 April 2001. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
- "MediaWorks downsizes and restructures TV Works". Singapore Press Holdings. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. 9 November 2001. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- "SPH to divest stakes in Mediacorp entities". SPH. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Yahya, Yasmine (25 August 2017). "SPH to divest stakes in Mediacorp TV and Press while Today newspaper will cease print edition and go fully digital". The Straits Times. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- "Mediacorp buys SPH's minority shareholdings of its entertainment television and newspaper businesses". Mediacorp. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- "TODAY moves to a fully digital future". Mediacorp. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Mokhtar, Faris (25 August 2017). "TODAY goes fully digital from Oct, to end print edition after 17-year run". Today. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- "TODAY newspaper to cease print edition, go fully digital". Channel NewsAsia. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Woo, Jacqueline (30 September 2017). "SPH completes sale of Mediacorp stakes". The Straits Times. Retrieved 21 October 2019.