News Corp. Joint Venture Star China Media Names New CEO, COO

The venture operates Chinese-language networks formerly fully owned by News Corp.'s Star TV.

CHENGDU, China – Star China Media, News Corp.’s joint venture with the fledgling state-run China Media Capital investment fund, on Thursday in Shanghai appointed a new CEO and COO team to set up for growth.

SCM, which was formed in August 2010 when CMC paid 5 billion yuan ($739 million) for controlling stakes of Rupert Murdoch’s Chinese-language channels and film library, appointed former Shanghai Media Group executive Tian Ming as chief executive officer, the company said.

“Tian Ming’s media background and his impressive track record of growing television companies cannot come at a better time as SCM is gearing up for significant expansion,” said Li Ruigang, chairman of the SMG, China’s No. 2 media conglomerate after China Central Television in Beijing, and one of the two leading partners in CMC.

SCM’s media assets include Xing Kong Wei Shi, Xing Kong International, Channel [V], and the Fortune Star movie library, all of which News Corp. developed for years before selling off its controlling stake to CMC’s leading partners SMG and the Shanghai Development Bank last summer.

“[These assets] represent some of the most well-known brands in Chinese-language entertainment programming and possess immense growth potential,” incoming SCM CEO Tian said.

China’s television penetration in a nation of more than 1.3 billion people is the highest in the world at over 95%, while it’s Internet market is also No. 1 worldwide, with more than 450 million websurfers who traditional broadcasters increasingly are trying to reach.

Tian, 42, previously was group vice president of SMG, overseeing flagship channel Dragon TV and the group’s variety programming. He succeeds Jack Gao, who will move into the role of News Corp. senior vice president and CEO of News Corp. China Investments to focus on “developing News Corp’s other investment opportunities in China,” SCM said in a statement. Li thanked Gao for his services.

Tian began his media career in 1992 as part of the team that launched Shanghai’s Oriental Television. During his eight-year tenure there, Tian launched well-known investigative news and current affairs programs such as OTV Widewatch and Hotline, followed by a lead role in the creation of hit variety shows such as China’s Got Talent. One year into Tian’s leadership, the advertising revenue of Dragon TV was doubled, SCM said.

SCM’s new COO Cao Zhigao, 46, has 25 years of media experience with a focus on advertising sales and management.  Before joining SCM, Cao was the Greater China president of SearchMedia Holdings. From 2005 to 2008, Cao was COO of CGEN Digital Media where he led the growth of the company before it was acquired by Focus Media in 2007.