News Corp veteran sets up syndicated programming business in China

Marty Pompadur is striking out on his own and launching a start-up business that will provide Chinese local broadcasters with syndicated programming.

Pompadur, a long-time trusted lieutenant of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, told TBIvision about his plans on the same day that he told a London conference that large media companies should give up on China as the authorities do not want them there.

Pompadur was, until earlier this month, EVP of News Corp. and chairman of News Corp. Europe. But amid a reorganisation at News in which Tom Mockridge‘s role has been expanded, Pompadur, 73, now spends half of his time consulting for the media company and the remainder on his own projects.

Having just returned from a ten-day trip to the country, Pompadur told TBIvision that he is setting up a business with a local partner that will import programming for China’s numerous local TV stations, which are desperate for cost-effective content.

There will be no license fee paid by the local stations, but Pompadur’s company will strike barter deals and take a cut of revenues from advertising shown during the programmes’ transmission.

Despite the onerous restrictions on foreign programming, Pompadur said that he was confident that inserting some locally relevant material and reversioning the content would make it acceptable to Chinese authorities and regulators. The media veteran did not specify who the local partner in the venture is, or the name of the new entity.

He gave details of his Chinese business on the same day he had told the European Media Leaders Summit in London that large media companies stood no chance of setting up viable operations in the country.

"China is very clear: If you are a News Corp. or a Disney then don’t waste your time," he said. "You are too powerful and the government doesn’t want you there. Get out." He added: "But if you are an individual with the right contacts you can make money."