Johan Ishak: Democratisation of TV is my overall game plan

Exactly a year ago, on October 1, Johan Ishak was appointed as the CEO of Media Prima TV Networks. On October 1, Johan wrote his thoughts on it on his Facebook page. 

“Exactly a year ago I reported for duty at Media Prima Television (TV) Networks (MPTN).

It has been quite a roller coaster, and this interesting ride continues. Never had I imagine before that I would look after TV stations particularly TV3, the channel that made me wait every evening in the mid 80’s for cool cartoons such as Transformers, Voltron, Mask, Thundercats, Jem & the Hologram and a Japanese drama, Oshin.

The task was never intended to be easy and it still poses me numerous challenges daily.

From managing the content to making sure the transmission on air. From boosting the viewership to making the profit and loss black. From ensuring legal protection to embracing new digital technology.

I feel as if many jobs have been moulded together into one consisting the roles of an accountant, salesperson, content programmer, market researcher, tech practitioner, marketer, advertiser, creative director, engineer, event organiser, lawyer and a journalist.

The learning curve is so steep so much so that if I go on leave even for a day, it feels like I have missed my university morning lectures, particularly Economics. With 4 TV Stations (TV3, 8TV, TV9 and ntv7), 1 Over-the-Top (OTT) platform (, 1 online portal (, 1 Home TV Network (CJ Wow Shop), 1,300 staff, 7 million TV households and 21 million TV viewers, I am sure anyone would feel as overwhelmed as I had (and still feeling it).

TV3 continues to be the Number 1 TV station in the country at 30% of the mass Malay audience. 8TV also continues to be Number 1 Chinese TV station in the country at 30% of the mass Chinese audience.

Together all 4 stations command 30% of the overall TV audience in Malaysia making it to be the most effective broadcasting network as far as advertising effectiveness is concerned. RM1 of each advertising spend can reach 30% of the market by just spreading it over 4 stations instead of over 200 plus other small stations that we compete with.

On top of all this, delivers all of our content to its 8.4 million registered users.

Democratisation of Content was on my agenda from the start. This is because we have awesome TV content such as the Akasia dramas, entertainment shows like Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL), kids’ titles such as Ejen Ali , morning talk shows like Malaysia Hari Ini (MHI), women show like Nona, documentaries like Majalah 3 and of course, our news slot like Buletin Utama.

All these we have made it more accessible to viewers after the TV airing for free when our stopped charging subscription fees to viewers from 1 September 2018 onwards.

In addition, these content are being made available on YouTube.

Democratisation of Digital mindset has made us to continue to be relevant. Our viewership is no longer just on TV. As mentioned earlier, our OTT and YouTube presence are critical.

This is flanked with a heightened effort to push content via social media particularly Facebook. This allows a very long and significant tail end subsequent to TV airing.

For example, AJL32 recorded 3.8 million viewers on TV3 but later accumulated 24 million viewers on the internet.

There are many examples that can be shared but this example provides good insights into how the two universes coexist.

What is more compelling is that our advertisers can reach out to specific classes of targeted audience on these digital platforms via our own Artificial Intelligence (AI) called Audience+.

Democratisation of Advertising was the next item on my checklist. Many businesses in Malaysia that fuelled the Malaysian economy are Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). They (SMEs) have very limited financial resources to advertise on TV because TV is said to be expensive.

After so many research efforts and spreadsheet number crunching to make sense of our TV microconomics, my team and I had restructured our pricing to arrive at a formula that works for both the SMEs as well as our profit and loss statement – and the result?

Wallah! Behold the super affordable #JomMasukTV, where SMEs can explore by emailing queries to [email protected].

Democratisation of Journalism is something we have been able to enhance quite naturally. The basic rule, i.e. Journalism 101, is Impartiality.

Our ability to explore news and current affairs from all perspectives puts us higher on the ‘trust meter’.

Whilst we have the strategy to report official Government policies and direction, such citizen-centric mindset has been energised to incorporate concerns from the public.

We believe we have such tremendous obligation so much so that we have revitalised our citizen-centric show, Soal Jawab, into Soal Rakyat.

As a result, our news slots gained 20% viewership this year particularly Buletin Utama.

In the month of May 2018 alone, we have had 400 million views on TV for our news slots representing 17 million Malaysian population who viewed on average 23.5 times.

Democratisation of Shopping is embraced when anyone can buy goods from our TV shopping arm, CJ Wow Shop. It is simply Wow! Why? Within just two years of operation, we have hit one million buyers simultaneously making it a profitable business.

For this, we are grateful to our business partner from South Korea, the CJ ENM Group.

Our ground event, Karnival Jom Heboh, continue to record 80,000 to 100,000 visitors per weekend making it one of the most sought after event by both consumers as well as traders.

Our overall creative direction won close to 30 awards from various marketing organisations and we even won Media Company of the Year for 2018 for South East Asia.

Democratisation of TV is my overall gameplan. There are many initiatives that have been put in motion but the above will suffice to demonstrate how we, at MPTN, have to be dynamic in our approach.

We have many stakeholders but the 2 most crucial ones that provide oxygen to our blood are viewers and advertisers.

We strive to address their every need. To do this, we are constantly looking for changes that benefit our stakeholders.

In the end, the only constant that makes perfect sense in this digital era is Change itself.”

You can read more of his thoughts HERE in MARKETING issue 227.

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