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Chernin gets very digital in Asia

Former News Corp guru on build and buy hunt

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Former News Corp COO and trusted Murdoch right hand man, Peter Chernin, is emerging as a significant digital media protagonist in Asia.

Chernin launched CA Media, an operating and investment vehicle, in China and India late last year headed up by former Star TV exec Paul Aiello, and is opening a third office in Jarkata soon.

The media group is aggressively ramping up activity to buy and build local cross platform businesses, recently buying a stake in a mixed martial arts and a sports content business in China.

Speaking at the AsiaD conference (video here)in Hong Kong on Friday he said: “We’re going to approach all these places opportunistically. I think the opportunities in China are likely to be more digital, there are more regulations as it relates to traditional media. You can’t own a platform, you can co-produce but you can’t own a content business.

"India, is likely to be more of both. There are big content broadcast platform opportunities, and also very significant digital opportunities there,” he said.

He noted that mobile would be a key driver for expansion in both territories, which each have a little over 700 million mobile customers. “I think what you’re going to see in both these places is the real growth of the mobile Internet, on some level leapfrogging the traditional Internet. And, I would conjecture, probably setting a standard for the growth in mobile Internet,” he said.

Chernin added that these markets may be where the US dominant model of globalization of digital media platforms is flipped. “Are we going to see developments — particularly in the area of mobile Internet — from this part of the world, which ends up getting copied in the US because it has so much more of a dominant presence in people’s lives?” he posited.

Chernin who was one of the core architects of Hulu believes that sequential IP distribution of product is a huge opportunity for the studios. “I also genuinely believe that more distribution has always been better ... I am a big believer that don’t put it back in the bottle, number one.

"I think you are competing with PVRs, and I think you can figure out a way to sort of sequence the distribution that maximizes it.”

He adds that his firm view is that piracy can be curtailed by giving consumers easy, straightforward ways to download legitimately and at rational costs. “If you don’t, they will steal it from you,” he said.

Asked what he would do with Hulu if he were still at News Corp he said, “I would want to do everything I could to support Hulu. It’s not easy to build one of these things and I think if you’re the studio, what you want more than anything is you want an important and significant competitor to Netflix.

"The last thing you want is for there to be one dominant online subdistributor, because right now, you know, there is huge money being spent, but if they own the world, the money is going to come down.”

Chernin has invested in Tumblr, Flipsboard, Pandora and recently backed former YouTube content relation ships head George Strompolos in his new start-up FullScreen which attempts to aggregate content producers that are getting 10-15 million views of low-budget content with additional advertising resources. ®

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