Feature

World Media 2007: Taiwan

The Taiwanese media market proves that quantity has a certain quality, with thousands of print titles, hundreds of radio stations and no fewer than seven 24-hour TV news channels.

Taiwan, known as one of the four Asian tiger economies, continues to grow healthily and the population of 22 million is responsible for an increasing number of world-leading technology companies. But, as with the other so-called tigers, its roar has turned into more of a miaow.

Although real GDP growth is forecast to average 4.3 per cent in the next year, decreasing oil and consumer goods prices have led to a drop in consumer confidence.

President Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party has kept power since 2000, despite plummeting popularity amid corruption scandals involving senior aides, a son-in-law and the president's wife. Mass protests were held in September aimed at toppling the president well before his third and last term would come to a natural end in 2008.

Media competition in Taiwan is fierce, conducted chiefly through a recipe of sex and violence. There are no less than seven 24-hour news stations and more than 4,000 magazine publishers, 200 radio stations and about 2,500 newspaper publishers. It's also one of the most wired countries in the world, with more than 70 per cent of households connected to the internet.

Taiwanese newspapers saw a significant drop in readership over 2006, falling almost 5 per cent, while magazine readership declined by a similar amount. Growing internet consumption is at least partly responsible. The island's largest newspaper, Liberty Times, plans to launch a 24-hour news channel later this year.

Most of the media action in Taiwan in the last year has been in its well- developed cable TV market, where multi-service operators provide cable TV, internet and phone services (referred to in Taiwan as 3P). The take-up of multichannel cable TV - about 85 per cent - is the highest in the region, alongside South Korea. Speculation that the Taiwanese government might allow the island's four major cable TV networks to set their own prices and roll out extra services such as digital TV and high speed internet, has fuelled a bout of foreign investment.

A US company, The Carlyle Group, purchased a majority stake in Taiwan's leading TV company, Eastern Multimedia, last summer. Another major player, China Network Systems, sold 60 per cent to a private equity fund formed by former Carlyle Group executives. The Australian Macquarie Media Group owns a majority stake in another of the four leading companies, Taiwan Broadband Communications.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE
USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1 =
NT$32.2. *Estimated
Total Newspapers Magazines TV Radio Outdoor/ Online
Transport
2000 1,858 583 224 953 72 - 27
2001 2,010 674 220 992 97 - 26
2002 2,032 453 255 1,182 112 - 30
2003 2,223 433 293 1,349 114 - 34
2004 1,815 562 199 742 108 143 61
2005 1,615 483 203 654 96 88 91
2006 1,665 493 193 621 124 106 128
2007* 1,653 468 184 590 118 127 166
2008* 1,794 492 193 619 118 139 233
2009* 1,974 521 208 656 120 153 314

Adspend notes 1) Includes agency commission until 2003. 2) Excludes
production costs. 3) 1995 before discounts; 1996-2003 after discounts;
2004-2009 before discounts, but adjusted by Media Agency Association
ratio. 4) 1995 includes classified advertising; 1996-2003 excludes
recruitment, classified and charity ads; 2004-2009 excludes all
classified. 5) 1996-2003 radio and 2003 internet are ZenithOptimedia
estimates. 6) Internet includes banner, rich media, ICP (internet
content provider) and email advertising. 7) AC Nielsen began monitoring
ad expenditure in Taiwan in April 2003 and is now the preferred source
of data for most media agencies. We have used AC Nielsen's figures from
2004 and based our forecasts on them. AC Nielsen cannot supply figures
for before April 2003, so we have to keep the old figures, despite their
obvious discrepancies with AC Nielsen's.

FACTFILE
HIGHEST CIRCULATING TITLES
Newspaper: Liberty News (daily, 1,300,000 copies) (2004)
Business magazine: Business Weekly (136,000 copies) (2004)
Consumer magazine: Basic Studio Classroom (monthly, 290,000 copies)
(2004)
TOP TV SHOWS
Most-watched TV programme: Unforgettable Memory (2004)
Best new TV format: American Idol
MAJOR MEASUREMENT TOOLS
Circulation: No independent audit
Readership: AC Nielsen Media Research
TV viewing: AC Nielsen
MAIN MEDIA OWNERS
Newspapers: Liberty Times, China Times, United Daily News (2004)
Magazines: China Times Weekly (Next Magazine, Business Weekly) (2004)
TV: PTS (public), FTV, TTV, CTS, CTV

THE LOWDOWN

- Media topic du jour

The corporate scandal involving Wang You-theng, the chairman of the Taiwanese conglomerate the ReBar Asia Pacific Group. Billions of dollars have disappeared from company funds.

- Reigning media guru and why

Although his reign mig ht be threatened by his father's scandal (see above), Gary Wang, the chairman of the Eastern Multimedia Group, has built the business into an impressive empire, which includes the lucrative Home Shopping Network.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Terry Kuo, the paparazzi's favourite IT tycoon and one of the richest people in greater China, is moving into movies.

- Car to drive: Mercedes-Benz.

- Phone to carry: Moto ROKR.

- Whatever you do, don't say: Is your president on the make?

BUZZ MEDIA IDEA OF 2006

Tapei 101 is the world's tallest skyscraper. When Sony Bravia sponsored the capital's new year firework display, including a staggering burst of explosions from the top floors of the building, the result was sensational. Sony's signage on the building appeared on videos across the web.