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SPH Media Trust justified in asking for govt funding, new CEO pick in 2 weeks: Khaw

Yahoo News logo Yahoo News 27/1/2022 Staff Writer, Singapore,Staff Writer, Singapore
Khaw Boon Wan sitting in front of a building

SINGAPORE — The new SPH Media Trust (SMT) has a "justification" in asking the government for funding when it comes to capability building, and where the payback period is long, said its chairman Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (27 January), according to national broadsheet The Straits Times.

With authorities prepared to provide funding support for SMT, Khaw said at a media briefing, "It's a mixed bag of things and the discussion is coming along nicely, and I'm quite sure (the Ministry of Communications and Information) would be ready to make an announcement quite soon."

Discussions on the matter with the government and organisations such as clan associations and community groups had been going well, Khaw added.

Khaw suggested that metrics such as audience numbers and subscription numbers might be used as key performance indicators. However, he stressed that SMT will largely be funded through its own commercial revenue, and turning a profit will still be important.

Upon his appointment last May, Khaw had told an internal town hall that the editorial independence of SPH journalists is a "given".

SMT was spun off from media giant Singapore Press Holdings last December, with SPH's media operations restructured and all its media assets transferred to SMT. Khaw said the entity has been building up its talent pool and technology capabilities ever since, and will continue to focus on these two key areas as it focuses on quality, credible journalism.

The SMT chair added that these two areas will see heavy investment, with the government agreeing in principle to support some of the initial investments. He noted that the former SPH had underinvested in talent and technology and "those are the two big pieces of gaps where we have to make the corrections as soon as we can".

New SMT CEO to be appointed

Separately, Khaw revealed that a new chief executive for SMT will be revealed within the next two weeks.

Interim CEO Patrick Daniel, who stepped down in 2017, had come out of retirement to take up the current role. The 67-year-old spent three decades at SPH and held various roles such as editor-in-chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media Group.

Khaw, a former minister who oversaw portfolios such as health and transport, retired in 2020 but later accepted the appointment as SMT chairman.

The search for a permanent CEO began almost immediately after Khaw became chairman last May. He said then that the new SMT chief should ideally be Singaporean and digitally savvy. He or she should also be someone who "understands both East and West and is Singaporean at heart - and be among the world's best".

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