Discovery Communications has marked out China as a key territorial priority and is aiming to build upon its programming partnerships in the region with a full channel launch, according to president and CEO David Zaslav (pictured).
Talking at a media briefing in New York, Zaslav admitted that China was a “tough market,” but said Discovery was hopeful that the early work it had put in with firms in the region would stand it in good stead if and when media ownership and broadcast laws relaxed.
“It’s a tough market, but it’s a market we’ve spent some time in,” said Zaslav. “Ultimately, over the next few years, we would hope that Science or Discovery Channel might be one of the earlier entrants into the market.”
He added that the network had been successful getting a lot of its programming carried in the region, and cited the company’s online joint venture with Baidu as an example of Chinese success. “We believe that over time all of the work that we do there… will give us access to maybe the great growth market in the world.”
Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, added that Discovery wants “to be there and do everything that we’re allowed to do” in the region, pointing out that some Discovery channels are already in embassies and some four- and five-star hotels.
“We have three offices there and very good relationships with all of the major media companies there,” he said, adding that with channel launches, Discovery would “hope to be first in line when that opportunity does come.”
Elsewhere at the briefing, Zaslav was tight-lipped about speculation that Discovery was looking to acquire Scandinavian broadcaster SBS. “With SBS, we don’t comment on specific transactions, but we’re always looking opportunistically at transactions,” he said.