Redstone connects to biz in China


Sumner Redstone had Asia on his mind Wednesday.

The Viacom chairman was invited to address a Beverly Hilton dinner audience of the Asia Society Southern California, capping a daylong conference probing media issues in China and neighboring territories. He was honored with the group's Chairman's Award, given for business leadership on U.S.-Asian relations.

"I have personally visited China on business at least seven times in recent years, and I sit down with government ministers and our current and prospective media partners on every occasion," Redstone said in his prepared remarks. "That face-to-face exchange is critical to building the trust that fosters longstanding relationships."

The Viacom boss underscored the now widely accepted notion that Asian markets will become increasingly dominant in global commerce.

"The Asian audience will only grow in number and purchasing power," Redstone said. "In the years ahead, two thirds of the population of Asia will be under the age of 35 -- the demographic most important to us -- and these young adults will wield greater disposable income and international savvy than any previous generation in history."

Fortunately, it's becoming increasingly easy to do business in China and other regional markets, he added.

"Thanks to toppling regulatory barriers and tumbling telecommunications costs, we are interconnected electronically as never before," Redstone said. "From China Mobile to MTV and, of course, to Nickelodeon, we are a globe swimming in information and entertainment options. And those myriad options are transforming our experience of life."

MTV Greater China managing director Yifei Li was among those slotted on topic-discussion panels earlier in the day.

"Two of our great television brands, MTV and Nickelodeon, are all over Asia and China -- and are branded as such, an important and unique distinction," Redstone said. "No other company can make that claim."