How is SMG progressing with its new media business?
Li Ruigang: In terms of digital TV, we have launched pay TV and developed related content. We currently have 16 pay TV channels nationwide and 30 pay TV channels in Shanghai.
In terms of IPTV (Internet Protocol TV), we have 70,000 subscribers in Harbin and 10,000 subscribers in Shanghai, where subscriber numbers are estimated to reach 60,000-80,000 by the end of this year. IPTV charges 60 yuan per month.
We also have broadband TV and mobile phone TV. Mobile phone TV has two modes: One is the browse mode, for which we have approximately 200,000 subscribers nationwide. The other is the DMP (Distributed Memory Processing) mode, which has not yet been launched. We have been trying everything in the new media field over the past two years.
How can SMG operate efficiently with so many different types of media?
We must be clear about our abilities and our direction. We also must give consideration to our specific strengths. We have spared no effort in the new media field. Take IPTV as an example. We have obtained an operating license and have established a platform in collaboration with China Telecom and China Netcom. To some extent, we have become a virtual operator. Thus, we can do what others cannot.
Does this mean that SMG is not involved in content production?
We are involved in content production. It is unreasonable for a good media company to completely outsource content. One of the roles we play is content producer. The percentage of self-produced programs has increased in recent years. Take entertainment programs as an example. We used to purchase most of the programs, but we currently self-produce many of them. We also sell them to other TV stations and overseas media companies.
SMG covers many areas. With which overseas media groups does SMG share similarities in terms of a profit-creation paradigm?
It is hard to find any similar group in the United States. As far as its overall size is concerned, SMG is certainly not as large as media giants overseas. However, SMG covers a much broader area. News Corp., for example, has no children's programs, but SMG does; Viacom does not have any sports programs, but SMG does. Even before the integration, we already had a diversified selection of channels, covering a variety of themes.
Is SMG currently planning to integrate new media and traditional media?
During the initial phase, we had a number of integration cases. For example, the publication of China Business News and also Haha Pictorial magazine, which is produced in conjunction with the children's channel. This is the concept of integration between TV and print media. If you understand how to integrate new media and traditional media, then it is possible for the group to move into a whole new arena.
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