« Star turn » – C21 media


Cem Aydin. Source : C21 Media

« Following its purchase of Star TV last year, Turkey’s Dogus Media Group is focusing on rebuilding the mainstream channel with original and international productions. CEO Cem Aydin spoke to Michael Pickard.

When its plans to add a home-grown mainstream network to its portfolio of thematic channels were stifled by the economic crisis in 2009, Turkey’s Dogus Media Group was forced to put its ambitions on hold.

Its desire to expand remained, however, and the group moved its focus from launching a network to acquiring an existing one. In line with this new strategy, in October 2011, Dogus paid Turkish conglomerate Dogan Media Group US$327m for its entertainment network Star TV.

Dogan originally bought Star for US$306.5m in 2005 after previous owner Uzan Media folded in 2003 with debts of US$6bn. Star joined Dogus’s stable of seven other channels, which run alongside websites, radio stations, magazines and a publishing imprint. The business is part of the wider Dogus Group of 122 companies, operating in sectors as diverse as banking, construction, real estate and energy.

Explaining the Star purchase, Cem Aydin, CEO of Dogus Media Group, says the firm had become a “pioneer” in thematic channels and wanted to try its hand in a “new and more competitive market” – mainstream TV.

“We worked on a project named TV-en for almost two years,” he says. “But unfortunately, due to the financial turmoil, the project was postponed for an indefinite period. In 2011, when new advertising opportunities arose for mainstream channels, this was the right time to take a project from the rack. Turkey’s first private TV channel, Star TV, was on sale and so rather than building a TV channel from scratch we decided to rebuild Star TV.”

Dogus Media Group was founded in 1999 with the acquisition of NTV, Turkey’s first 24-hour news channel, which had launched in 1996. Business and entertainment channel CNBC-e debuted in 2000 while sports net NTV Spor, music channels Kral TV and Kral Pop, Hindi news net HDe and entertainment net e2 completed the line-up until Star was added last year.

Dogus wasn’t the only company affected by the economic crash, as the entire Turkish media industry faced cuts after a period of expansion, but Aydin says the country’s recovery is now gathering pace. “We were affected but the recovery process has been fast,” he says. “We expect the ad market to grow by 20.4% in 2012 and bring fresh blood to the media industry in general. We aim to increase our ad share in the market until 2013 and keep it around 11.2% afterwards. Obviously, TV still occupies the largest portion of ad share and the acquisition of Star TV has enabled us to double our market share projections for the next three years.”

Advertising sales have also been impacted by the collapse of the Turkish ratings system, which was abandoned last year amid allegations the personal details of some panelists were leaked, which potentially left them open to bribes to change their viewing habits.

A new ratings system will launch in May, but Aydin says: “We’re in limbo right now. This is not good for the sector. Advertisers need measured metrics; they want to see who they reach. And the ad price is also determined through ratings of the time slot. We broadcasters need the metrics to see how our shows are doing and also to talk to the advertisers.”

Despite some signs of economic growth, Dogus does not intend to venture back into acquisitions, as Aydin says picking up new networks is “not a priority for us right now. Improving Star TV, according to our goals and vision, ranks higher on our agenda and we need to concentrate on this objective,” he says.

In terms of content, Dogus’s networks have found success with both home-grown and imported shows. On CNBC-e, worldwide hits including the BBC’s Merlin and Doctor Who, US network CBS’s comedy How I Met Your Mother, Starz original series Spartacus: Blood & Sand and HBO’s Game of Thrones have won strong audiences, while NTV’s documentary hour on Sundays and local news show Close Up are also popular.

Meanwhile, e2 has a slate of international productions including HBO’s Treme and BBC comedy Come Fly With Me, as well as US talkshows such as The Ellen Show, The Conan O’Brien Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

At Star, Ottoman Empire drama Magnificent Century (Muhtesem Yuzyil), made by TIMS Productions, was acquired from rival Show TV, in part to highlight the takeover completed by Dogus, and viewers have followed. “We obviously treated this transfer as a launch tool to attract attention to the change taking place at Star,” says Aydin. “It is doing very well since the story is quite appealing and tragic and it has a loyal audience. But Star will create its own productions soon enough.

“For the past three or four years, historical series have been on the rise, occupying a serious position in the entertainment world and attracting significant attention to certain periods of history. We believe this trend will continue for a few more years as there is quite a lot of historical material that can be used.”

Other popular shows airing on Star include Iffet, a drama about a woman who is betrayed by her lover; and One Man, One Woman (Bir Erkek, Bir Kadin), the Turkish adaptation of Canadian comedy series Un Gars, Une Fille.

Gameshows are also finding viewers and Star airs a version of Israeli format Still Standing, under the title Eyvah Dusuyorum, which is produced by Endemol Turkey. The channel is also prepping a Turkish version of US classic Jeopardy!. “In terms of primetime series, locally originated productions have been dominant until recently,” says Aydin.

One notable exception to this is Kanal D’s remake of long-running US drama Desperate Housewives, which is running as Umutsuz Ev Kadinlari, produced by Medyapim.

“We are always looking to acquire successful international content,” says Aydin. “Adapting scripts is a rising trend but it is quite difficult to find stories that fit the local culture. Producing original dramas will still be the priority of the sector.”

The number of programmes exported from Turkey is also on the rise, as shown by Magnificent Century’s roll-out into more than 40 territories worldwide by distributor Global Agency. “Turkish series have become quite popular abroad, especially in the Middle East. It is to such an extent that the popularity of these series has boosted interest in Turkey, creating a new line of tourism. It is an exciting but understandable development, given the proximity of the cultures.

“This growth will continue as long as series dominate the primetime hour. But will this spread to other regions? The answer to this lies in shortening the duration, the variety and the production quality of the projects,” explains Aydin.

“Primetime is dominated by Turkish series that run for three hours, with ad slots. A show that runs for almost three hours every week has the possibility of falling into a vicious circle and, currently, the Turkish television industry is suffering from this fatigue. It is having a negative effect, because in order to fill that time space, the stories become longer than usual and lose their dramatic effect.”

As Dogus has bought into Turkey’s mainstream television market with its acquisition of Star, so too have international broadcasters, which are looking to exploit one of the fastest growing TV markets in the world.

Discovery, National Geographic and Disney all have a presence in the country, and while not directly competing against Dogus’s stable of channels, their presence is a sign of the value of the market to foreign broadcasters.

However, Aydin says this competition is not something local networks have to fear, but is something they should embrace. “NTV has been the pioneer of news channels in Turkey by positioning itself as ‘the news channel of Turkey.’ But recently we have had international companies entering the scene, such as Al Jazeera,” says Aydin. “The existence of such competitors in the market is valuable and beneficial to raise standards. The same is also true for players like TNT and Fox in the entertainment world. Such international companies spice up the course of Turkish media.”

Since officially relaunching Star in January after completing the acquisition, Dogus is now preparing for a “second launch” this fall as the growth of the channel forms the focal point of the media group’s ambitions for the immediate future. Part of this plan is to follow the changing audience landscape in Turkey and, in particular, how younger viewers are taking their viewing habits online.

However, Aydin says traditional TV is still the main medium. “The most significant change in Turkey has been witnessed with the expansion of new media, with the mass penetration of internet into households,” he says. “Nevertheless, television is still the main source of information and entertainment.

“Turkish television is quite up to date with what happens in the international arena. The younger audience, on the other hand, is following TV online and has created its own digital entertainment world. We strive to create content that appeals to these youngsters as their habits will be determining the trends of the next few years.” »

Source : C21 media

« ATV sale hangs in the balance » – C21 media

« Low bids could scupper the sale of Turkish broadcaster ATV, media insiders in the country have warned, as Time Warner, News Corp and investment group Texas Pacific Group emerge as front-runners

An ATV source told C21 the station’s owner, Calik Holding, is thought to be seeking 12 to 15 times EBITDA for its ATV-Saba holdings, which includes the ATV channel, as well as newspaper and magazine assets.

With EBITDA at US$85m, this would result in an asking price of up to US$1.28bn. However, News Corp, Time Warner and TPG have so far tabled bids of up to around US$1bn for the Turkish asset, Reuters reported earlier this week.

“In my opinion, the bids that they submitted are below the expectations of the sellers. So I think there’s a chance that they might decide not to sell after all. They might just want to raise the value of their company for different reasons and see who’s interested,” said Endemol Turkey MD Ansi Elagoz.

Calik bought the ATV-Sabah holdings for US$1.1bn in 2007, though the firm is now understood to have hired Goldman Sachs to handle a sale.

An ATV source told C21 that the asset was definitely up for sale with initial bids entered last week. Negotiations could now run into the summer, the source said, though separate reports suggest the process may conclude by the end of the month.

RTL, which was also rumoured to be interested in buying the asset, is not thought to have tabled an offer.

News Corp already owns Turkish terrestrial channel Fox TV and in 2010 sold its Bulgarian TV business bTV to Central European Media Enterprises for US$400m. Time Warner and TPG were reported to have bid for Turkish conglomerate Dogan Holding’s Kanal D and Star TV assets last year, though neither reached an agreement.

IHS’s head of advertising research Daniel Knapp said that Turkey is attracting foreign interest as it, along with Russia, is a key growth market: “Recent years have shown that the Turkish TV market is an opportunity too good to miss. In 2010 the ad market grew by 40%. In 2011 we project it to grow by 22% in net terms, which is phenomenal. We don’t see this growth anywhere else.”

Yadigar Belbuken, deputy general manager and head programming at Fox International Channels Turkey, would not comment on News Corp’s apparent interest in ATV, but said: “There seems to be room to grow and I suspect there will be more international groups launching new channels or investing in the market, such as in ATV.” »

Source : C21 media

« Race for ATV-Sabah heats up as Murdoch joins in » – Sunday’s Zaman

« Friday’s report in The Wall Street Journal that Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corporation was mulling over acquiring Turkish Çalık Holding’s Sabah daily and ATV station will boost the competitors’ bids for the sale, observers argue.

Çalık recently announced he was putting Sabah and ATV on sale and that the US investment management firm Goldman Sachs was authorized for the sale. The WSJ quoted sources close to News Corp that the company last Wednesday demanded Goldman Sachs to extend the pre-proposal date for the sale, which gave Murdoch another week to come up with an offer. The WSJ also claimed the sale process has drawn interest from bidders including Time Warner Inc. and private equity firm TPG Capital. The offer could be between $700 million and $1 billion, and the presence of another bidder such as News Corp could increase the deal at the high end of that range or above, the WSJ report said.

This is not the first time Murdoch has voiced interest in the Turkish media market.

Murdoch and his partner Turkish-American music magnate Ahmet Ertegün’s Atlantic Records acquired Turkish Huzur Radyo TV AŞ. — the owner of TGRT TV — for $98 million in 2006. TGRT’s name was later changed to Fox TV and it continues operating under this name in Turkey. The mogul in 2007 shared plans with the Turkish government that he “seriously contemplated the acquisition of Sabah and ATV” when they were put on sale by the state’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). Following confiscation by the TMSF from Turkish business tycoon Turgay Ciner’s Merkez Media Group in 2007, the Çalık Group acquired Sabah and ATV along with other smaller entities for $1.25 billion in 2008. In addition to top-rated entertainment station ATV and major daily Sabah, Çalık Group also currently owns smaller newspapers Takvim, Günaydın, Yeni Asır and Pas Fotomaç, radio station Radio City, 10 magazines and their properties, brand names and equipment. […] » »

Source : Sunday’s Zaman

« Murdoch’s News Corp. plans bid to buy Turkish media group » – Today’s Zaman

News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch holds a copy of The Sun and The Times as he is driven away from his flat in central London on July 11, 2011. (Photo: Reuters / Source : Sunday's Zaman)

« Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is considering a bid to buy one of Turkey’s biggest media groups, which owns the Sabah daily and popular TV station ATV, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), one of the media outlets owned by News Corporation.

The Turkish group is currently owned by Çalık Holding, a business conglomerate run by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law.

Çalık and its advisors at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sought preliminary bids Wednesday but have pushed back the deadline until next week, in part to accommodate News Corporation, WSJ reported Friday, quoting unnamed sources that it said were familiar with the issue.

The value of Sabah-ATV is estimated to be between $700 million and $1 billion, according to the WSJ report.

The WSJ said US media giant Time Warner Inc. and private-equity firm TPG Capital are also interested in Sabah-ATV.

News Corporation, which owns a number of media outlets — including the Daily Telegraph, New York Post and Fox Broadcasting Company — in many countries, also holds the majority share of popular television station Fox TV in Turkey. »

Source : Today’s Zaman