Singapore in Brief

Former Mediacorp Executive Dishes the Dirt

A former Mediacorp executive has spilled the dirt on the company, suggesting that the company is struggling to cope with major changes in the media industry. The company is apparently plagued by a number of serious issues, including the exit of key staff and an unrealistic corporate mission.




A culture of risk aversion is a stumbling block in MediaCorp keeping pace with the times. Mediacorp aims to become a billion-dollar company by 2015, but without relying on acquisitions or moving outside of its core media capabilities. The company is now worth some $650 million. But the former executive says it’s unlikely that Mediacorp will meet its billion-dollar revenue target.




The company’s approach to management is flawed, according to the former executive. It places generalists in specialist roles.


Another problem has been the company’s approach to management, which has been to place generalists in specialist roles. “People have been moved around the company regardless of expertise, which is a recipe for disaster in media. Whether the discipline is TV or digital, these units must be managed by specialists,” he said.


“A few years ago, the shift from traditional to emerging media was still happening, but there was a lot less pressure on MediaCorp. No one noticed. But now an enormous amount of attention has been placed on digital projects as revenues have started to crumble,” he said.




MediaCorp has struggled with digital ventures in the recent past, with e-book store ilovebooks shutting down less than a year after it launched. Meanwhile its incubator program has been unwilling to take a risk on startups beyond serial entrepreneurs, the former executive said.


However, it is unfair to lay blame for the company’s troubles solely on chief executive Shawn Seow, who is “steering a rusty ship in a very big tropical storm,” the former employee said.


“If you look at the decisions he’s making, he’s doing the right things. But he’s not working in isolation. Temasek are involved as are meddling politicians,” he said.




Head of strategic marketing Patrick Yong and interactive media MD Philip Koh are to leave the company, within a month of other high profile departures. Those roles are not to be replaced, MediaCorp has confirmed.


The string of senior departures, which has included head of digital enterprise Nick Fawbert and Tony Lai, a former Singapore Tourism Board executive who ran MediaCorp’s experiences and outreach arm, has happened now as the company’s financial year has just come to an end; budgets and company objectives have come into renewed focus.

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