It’s just a matter of time, but “somewhere along the line you’re going to see a Chinese company buy a U.S. media company and technology company,” former News Corp COO Peter Chernin said today in an interview at The Paley Media Center. “We’ll get up in arms. But it’s no different than us going in to buy their companies.” That’s something he’s been trying to do in his current role as chairman of the Chernin Group and Chernin Entertainment, where he’s scouring Asia for business opportunities. “The tale of most of my career in the media business has been new technologies coming in and disrupting traditional media businesses,” he says. “You spend a lot of time wondering who’s attacking me? … I ultimately made the decision that it would be more fun to be a disruptor than to defend myself from disruption.” He particularly wants to develop businesses in Asia’s growing economies. For example, China has “the fastest-growing (movie) theatrical business in the world, about to pass Germany to be No. 3.” But local regulations and tastes make it difficult for U.S. companies to break in to key markets. Due to government restrictions in China, his view is for westerners to “avoid broadcasting first, avoid cable second.” India is more open, but western entertainment often baffles audiences. “It’s easier for the Chinese to understand the West than for the Indians,” Chernin says. For example, “the driving force in every Indian soap opera is the relationship between the bride and her mother in law … it’s a unique cultural thing.” He adds that the music business is “incredibly vibrant” in India but mostly because “they’re buying ringtones of popular Bollywood songs.” There’s one form of entertainment that does cross borders: “You go anywhere in Asia and you’ll see people watching Korean dramas.” Chernin wasn’t asked pesky questions about whether he might mount a bid for Yahoo, what may happen to Rupert Murdoch with the News of the World scandals, or what will happen in the auction for Hulu, which Chernin championed.
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