Mongol TV Head: Media Can Help Fix Country's Big Problems

Nomin Chinbat says Mongolia's 180 channels are full of illegal content and political propaganda, but hopes this can change.

SINGAPORE – Nomin Chinbat, head of Mongol TV, has grander intentions than just ridding the country's television business of rampant pirated content and unlicensed formats. The young executive wants to help clean up Mongolian politics and the nation by creating a free and open media.

Pirated versions of shows and movies around the world flood Mongolia's 180 channels, except Mongol TV.

“The networks are used as propaganda channels for politicians. They are used very effectively every four years at election time,” says Chinbat, whom The Hollywood Reporter named  one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Global TV at MIPCOM 2013.

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“There are laws against piracy, but they aren’t implemented,” explains Chinbat, who says that politicians in the country of roughly three million won’t challenge journalists because their relationships with them are too cozy. 

Mongol TV has invested in original programming, licenses all of its imported content and runs investigative journalism features highlighting social problems such as alcoholism and corruption.

The company is organizing a Mongol TV Day for February 2014, to which it has invited major international studios, to raise awareness of the issues, and introduce the global industry to Mongolia. Britain’s ITV and America’s CBS are already confirmed, and negotiations are ongoing with other attendees.

The situation has improved in recent years, with some channels having become what Chinbat calls “hybrids, which license some sports rights, but then steal others and copy formats.”

“These days some of these channels might license 25 episodes of a format, and make 50. But this is actually progress,” says Chinbat.

Chinbat and her team were at the Asian Television Forum (ATF) in Singapore looking for new formats that can be produced within the constraints of Mongolian television budgets.

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“The studios are small, so we can't do shiny floor shows with big audiences,” says Chinbat.  

However, with Mongolia's young population – 65 percent of the country is under 35 years old – mobile viewing is on the rise, and the network is already working second-screen utilization and new media applications. This demographic sweet spot should guarantee strong growth in the population, economy and nascent entertainment sector in Mongolia in the coming decades.  

Twitter: @GavinJBlair