SMG position worsens with sagging morale, retrenchments and resignations….
I told myself I’ll stop writing about SMG, but they keep popping on my radar….
Despite having suffered a massive loss of almost RM100 million, Star Media Group (SMG) is still persistent in keeping its video platform dimsum.
It is reliably learnt that at its recent board of directors meeting, chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow was adamant in keeping the Over The Top (OTT) platform which has continued to be a source of discontent among the staff.
The decision to keep dimsum comes just after the SMG had issued retrenchment letters to about 200 staff including 50 long serving journalists.
“Fu is now trying to resurrect dimsum, which deserves a burial, into Asean TV.
He has proposed packaging the entertainment content with news content from Asia News Network (ANN) members.
“He has proposed packaging the entertainment content with news content from Asia News Network members. But he doesn’t seem to understand that except for Singapore, the rest of the Asean members do not use English.”
“But he doesn’t seem to understand that except for Singapore, the rest of the Asean members do not use English.
Most of the news content us very local in nature and of little interest to Malaysians,” said a source.
The now Singapore based ANN is an alliance of 23 media groups.
The source said the plan had been pushed by Fu, who has increasingly become a figure of frustration among the staff of SMG for his allegedly brash style and interference in operations.
The SMG still has no chief executive officer since Andreas Vogiatzakis quit in May after only eight months on the job.
It is now run by a three-men panel of directors headed by Fu, 73, Datuk Dr Mohd Amiruddin Rouse, 76, and Chan Seng Fatt, 58.
Chan, an accountant, is a director at Fitters Diversified Berhad, of which Fu was the chairman.
“It looks more like a desperate attempt to keep dimsum alive. Let’s face it, enough is enough after a loss of RM100million.”
The present chief financial officer Sam Au, who is actively involved in operations, was from Parkson Retail Group Ltd, of which Fu was a director.
None of the board members are from any media background after Datin Linda Ngiam, the former SMG managing director, resigned from the board.
The SMG deputy chairman Tan Sri Kuan Peng Soon, 76, is a trained engineer and prominent businessman.
SMG sources said the Asean TV idea has been pushed by Fu with no proper surveys and focus groups carried out on its feasibility.
“It looks more like a desperate attempt to keep dimsum alive.
Let’s face it, enough is enough after a loss of RM100million. “
A revenue department source said there was no business strategy behind Asean TV and that Fu’s idea of getting hotels to sign up was unconvincing.
He also said the content for Asean TV had been pushed to the newsroom.
Another source said while most SMG staff had been involved in the recent retrenchment exercise, most of the 60 dimsum staff had been relatively spared.
“The interference of Fu has become the talk in the media and advertising fraternity. At the moment, The Star isn’t loved because of one man,”
The National Union of Newspaper Workers (NUNW) and Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) have written to SMG and its majority shareholders, the MCA, to complain about Fu and the retrenchments.
The MTUC has described it as “inhumane” while NUNW is seeking a meeting with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Senior staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said anger was mounting in the office “with each passing day and we fear that SMG cannot be rescued if this present state of affairs remains.”
It is learnt that many candidates had asked openly at interviews if they were free to carry out their work without the board meddling in their work.
“The interference of Fu has become the talk in the media and advertising fraternity.
“At the moment, The Star isn’t loved because of one man,” said an agency CEO, who said he was supporting the “suffering staff at Menara Star.”
The Star’s move to impose a paywall for its hugely popular The Star Online has also taken a beating.
“A senior journalist said his room has been completely “cleared and it looks like he has walked out of the building.”
A source said it was difficult for The Star to impose a paywall unlike Singapore’s Straits Times where no news portal exists or in Hong Kong where the South China Morning Post is the only English news platform with the rest in Chinese.
Star staff said the biggest loser was MCA as it would lose a substantial number of its targetted audience.
Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai is already on leave ahead of January 1, 2021, when his contract as Group Adviser ends.
According to Malaysiakini, the former managing director and CEO of The Star has decided to leave SMG .
It has also been reported that executive editor Rozaid Rahman is joining Sinar Harian as its group chief editor.
Staff has described this as a loss to the Star.
It is unclear what is Wong’s next move but he has recently appeared in an online programme hosted by the powerful China Daily as the editorial adviser of the China Daily Roundtable Conference.
A senior journalist said his room has been completely “cleared and it looks like he has walked out of the building.”