CNA hits Silver Jubilee; Mediacorp lays out plans to scale up regional and global growth

CNA, the news and current affairs brand of Mediacorp, Singapore, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala dinner last evening. Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong was Guest-of-Honour at the event, held at Capella Singapore.

CNA 25th anniversary
(L to R) Steven Chia; Mediacorp Editor-in-Chief Walter Fernandez; Tham Loke Kheng; Singapore Minister Josephine Teo; Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong; Mediacorp Chairman Niam Chiang Meng; SMS Dr Janil Puthucheary; and Glenda Chong at the CNA 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner on March 19, 2024. Photo courtesy: Mediacorp

It was announced during the celebratory dinner that CNA would focus on reaching new audiences in regional and international markets like Indonesia, East Asia, United States, and the United Kingdom, while continuing to serve Singaporeans by delivering trusted news and quality stories across its multiple platforms.

Addressing a celebratory gathering of 300 guests, Mediacorp Chairman Niam Chiang Meng affirmed CNA’s commitment to continue evolving to meet the demands of a changing global mediascape. He said, “We aim to be present at every touchpoint in people’s lives, engaging them through a combination of our own platforms and third-party platforms. This multiplatform approach is anchored on our understanding of how people consume content today — across platforms and devices, languages, and genres.”

Explaining the use of technology to enhance the media content experience, Meng said, “For example, we use augmented reality or AR graphics to show perspective and scale when it comes to events such as the dramatic rescue of 41 Indian construction workers in November 2023, who were trapped in the tunnel they were working on in the Himalayas when it collapsed. By building a detailed model of the tunnel, we helped our audiences on television, digital and social media to visualise the complexity of the rescue efforts as they unfolded over the two weeks.”

DPM Wong, in his address, recalled how CNA came into being a quarter of a century ago.

DPM Wong
DPM Lawrence Wong speaks at the CNA 25th Anniversary celebrations, outlining how a Singapore media brand has gone global. Photo courtesy: Mediacorp

He said, “When I started work as a government economist in 1997, the Asian Financial Crisis was just starting to unfurl. One of my first assignments was to look at the emerging crisis, and assess what the impact on Singapore would be. Naturally, I had to get real-time updates on the developments.

“Back then, we relied on the Western broadcasters, like BBC and CNN. Not surprisingly, they reported on the crisis from a Western perspective. And it was not just [the] financial crisis. These international news outlets did not always cover news in Asia comprehensively. When they did, they often did not capture viewpoints and assessments relevant to our regional context.

“So, I was happy that the Television Corporation of Singapore decided in 1999 to launch CNA. It was a bold move then. Demand was uncertain as the business environment was recovering from the Asian Financial Crisis. In fact, many international broadcasters had held back on their expansion plans.

“But TCS pressed on — and that proved to be the right call — and CNA was launched on 1 March 1999 as planned. It proved to be a success. CNA quickly became popular with business executives, who depended on it for business news and information. Within a year, CNA expanded out of Singapore into the region.”

Citing the brand’s rapid expansion, DPM Wong said, “Today, CNA has established itself in 29 territories, bringing the Asian perspective to tens of millions of viewers across the region. CNA has also expanded into the digital space, and grown its online following.”  

Musician Joshua German at CNA event
Musician Joshua German plays the piano for the CNA anniversary dinner gathering. Photo courtesy: Mediacorp

All in all, it has been a remarkable 25 years. All of you in the CNA team — past and present — have contributed to these achievements. Everyone can take great pride in contributing to this crucial national endeavour. Congratulations on your Silver Jubilee and a big thank you to everyone!

Singapore DPM Lawrence Wong

Over these 25 years, CNA has also earned recognition on the global stage, having garnered more than 500 international awards and accolades.

Mediacorp Chairman Meng said, “At this juncture, I want to thank all our staff here for their dedication, their hard work and their creativity. I dare say that they have helped us achieve most of what we set out to do when we conceived CNA. Over the past decade, our CNA staff has helped us garner numerous international awards.”

Mediacorp Chairman Niam Chiang Meng
Mediacorp Chairman Niam Chiang Meng addresses the audience, explaining some of the cutting-edge technologies used by CNA for enhanced user experience and greater reach. Photo courtesy: Mediacorp

Fresh initiatives to expand audiences and enhance offerings

CNA now reaches more than 94 million homes and hotel rooms in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Digitally, CNA content is consumed by an average of more than 10 million unique visitors every month. On YouTube, CNA has a combined 4 million subscribers and over 27 million views per month for its CNA and CNA Insider channels.

With an eye on fostering further growth, CNA has embarked on developments aimed at building its existing base, meeting new needs, and engaging untapped audiences beyond Singapore. These are:

● Making inroads into the US, Canada, and the UK: The CNA brand will be introduced in North America, Canada, and the United Kingdom across a combination of platforms: television streaming services, YouTube, and a curated edition of the CNA website. The roll-out will be conducted in phases over this year. This undertaking will cater to people in these regions who are looking for breaking news and insightful documentaries about Asia — in particular China, Japan, and Korea.

● Strengthening depth of coverage on China: As part of its expansion strategy and to deepen its on-ground understanding and reporting of China-related news, CNA plans to augment its mix of TV and digital bureaus, with plans to open a new bureau in Shenzhen, and potentially station more correspondents at its Beijing and Shanghai bureaus.

● Introducing East Asia Tonight: Audiences can also look forward to a new one-hour bulletin, East Asia Tonight, airing on CNA every weekday at 6pm from April. Through a combination of ground reporting of the latest developments, original in-depth features and expert analysis, CNA will seek to help audiences around the world to better “Understand Asia”.

● Adopting AI to debut a Bahasa Indonesia website: Tapping on a large audience profile closer to home, CNA has launched, a website in Bahasa Indonesia. To achieve this milestone, CNA’s first digital foray beyond English, CNA signed a research collaboration agreement with Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to build an English-to-Bahasa Indonesia AI translation tool. A dedicated team of Bahasa Indonesia editors then checks these translated as well as original news reports and features before publishing them.

● Providing more engaging content experiences: Continuing to harness AI, CNA has introduced AI-generated summaries (FAST) for articles on the CNA app. Launched on 18 March, the FAST feature uses AI large language models to extract key sentences from stories. These are vetted by the CNA editorial team before publication, providing time-pressed readers with an option to sample content quickly and efficiently when on the go. This feature will be launched on the website soon.

Musicians Dr Azariah Tan and Claire Teo
Musicians Dr Azariah Tan and Claire Teo perform at the CNA anniversary event. Photo courtesy: Mediacorp

Earlier this year, CNA also introduced a text-to-speech conversion to enable readers to listen to digital stories; and improved its personalised experiences with MyFeed, a feature that allows readers to select and receive more stories on topics of interest to them.

Mediacorp Editor-in-Chief & Chief Sustainability Officer Walter Fernandez said, “CNA’s Silver Jubilee marks a significant milestone in our journey as CNA goes global.”

1999News and current affairs channel Channel NewsAsia launches on Free-to-Air TV in Singapore
2000Channel NewsAsia launches Asian feed,  reaching five million homes and hotel rooms in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines
2001Channel NewsAsia reaches 12 million homes in 15 territories, including the Philippines, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates
2002Channel NewsAsia begins broadcast in Hong Kong through Hong Kong Cable’s digital service
2004Channel NewsAsia and Thailand Cable TV Association sign agreement officially, launching the channel’s carriage in Thailand
2004Channel NewsAsia signs carriage licence agreement with MiTV, marking its inaugural presence in Malaysia
2004Channel NewsAsia secures broadcast rights in China. Distribution hits 16.4 million homes and hotels rooms in 18 territories across Asia
2012Apple iOS app launched
2013Channel NewsAsia starts 24-hour transmission with the tagline ‘Understand Asia’
2013Google Play Store App launched
2014Channel NewsAsia launches bureau in Myanmar, Yangon, one of only four foreign news organisations licensed to operate in the country
2014Channel NewsAsia achieves its milestone of 50 million homes and hotel rooms across Asia
2014Channel NewsAsia launches its Smart TV App on Samsung TVs
2015Channel NewsAsia switches to High-Definition transmission
2015Channel NewsAsia launches on Tata Sky, reaching 14 million subscribers in India
2017Channel NewsAsia begins transmission from new Mediacorp campus at one-north
2017Channel NewsAsia revamps app and website for tablet and mobile devices
2017Channel NewsAsia achieves its milestone of 75 million homes and hotel rooms across Asia
2018Channel NewsAsia launches, a lifestyle portal targeted at professionals, managers, executives, and businessmen (PMEBs)
2018Channel NewsAsia launches on Astro, the dominant satellite pay-TV platform in Malaysia
2019Channel NewsAsia streams 24/7 on YouTube
2019Channel NewsAsia rebranded to “CNA” to reflect transmedia multiplatform identity. New logo launched
2020Named “Channel of the Year” by the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB)
2021Wins Hinzpeter Award for coverage of police violence during protests
2022Named global winner of Best News Website or Mobile Service at World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) Digital Media Awards Worldwide
2023CNA remains the most trusted news brand in Singapore for the fifth consecutive year since 2019, according to a report by the Reuters Institute for Journalism at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom