Interview: Maria Rosario Santos-Concio
How is the Philippines positioned as a location for the development of media and entertainment content for the ASEAN region?
MARIA ROSARIO SANTOS-CONCIO: We have been successfully exporting content to the region for several years, with shows having aired in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and China, and this has garnered various awards at various festivals in the region. Beyond Asia, content is being exported to Africa, particularly North Africa and the Middle East. ASEAN integration creates significant opportunities for the export of talent or finished content products, whether through straight syndication and licensing or co-productions. Given the dearth of offerings in both the multichannel and straight-to-TV environments, there are opportunities across the whole spectrum of content, not only for television, but also for feature films, music, concerts, etc.
There have been talks about the possibility of an open skies policy in ASEAN, namely the ability of foreign broadcasters to beam directly into a country. However, beyond regulatory and technical hurdles there are local sensitivities and censorship issues as well that would be a major consideration for the export of content. There are also issues related to intellectual rights. Advertising issues could arise as a local advertiser may not have cleared the rights to use the material in another country or the product may not be applicable there.
How does the adoption of social media and digital communication affect the industry’s development?
SANTOS-CONCIO: The media industry has experienced a very unique push on the digital front, with several initiatives being developed to capitalise on social media and the digital space via online and over-the-top consumption; investment in analytics; and social media listening and crowd sourcing of content. The Philippines is the world’s eighth-largest Facebook user and the third in Asia, which is very valuable as social media platforms generate traffic and links to company websites, and give us an opportunity to engage often with our audience and also act as a source of user generated content. Consequently, the industry is moving beyond traditional platforms for delivery of content. The ongoing fragmentation poses both challenges as well as unique opportunities for media organisations to not only to create or reverse content, but also to tell stories in new ways. As a result, there is experimentation with unique content for mobile streaming sites and the definition of content has expanded from video content into applications and other new forms. As a media firm covering publishing, music, television, cable, radio, mobile, online, live events and film, we are experimenting with new ways of telling stories across platforms, using the media itself as part of the story while staying true to our focus on content and storytelling Given the migration towards digital, the media industry needs to be more familiar with the digital space, leading firms to expand their digital media divisions and attract digital natives to join the industry in fast-moving content generation areas. The challenge ahead will be to balance good storytelling with new ways of telling stories, especially as audiences evolve and as clients experiment with new media.
What opportunities does new mobile phone technology and ongoing convergence offer for media content generation and delivery?
SANTOS-CONCIO: Our investment in a mobile operator is designed to allow us to remain in step with our audience while still being differentiated by our core skills as a content firm. Convergence will be about content and what the platform can offer as far as content is concerned. Technology should not be a distracting factor, but a means to an end, ultimately the final edge will be based on content and user experience, while technology will remain invisible. Convergence offers the opportunity to deliver unique content via mobile devices, whether as media or as apps, and derive income. The multi-screen experience is what will continue to provide value (and unique experiences) for each platform.
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