Thursday, June 13, 2024

Focus Media Wireless Faces Uncertain Future After China Mobile Blocks Messages

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Focus Media Wireless, a subsidiary of the country’s advertising giant, Focus Media, finds itself in hot water. China Mobile, the largest mobile telecom operator, has taken a drastic step by blocking messages from Focus Media Wireless and six other companies following allegations of excessive spamming.

The move came after a consumer protection program aired on CCTV, China’s national television broadcaster, exposed these companies for their spamming practices. Consequently, the future of Focus Media Wireless hangs in the balance as its primary avenue for advertising faces a significant setback.

While Focus Media has temporarily suspended its message service, the repercussions are reverberating through its business operations. The parent company’s share price witnessed a dramatic decline, shedding over 26% within two days of the news breaking. This sharp decline reflects the gravity of the situation and the uncertainty surrounding the subsidiary’s future endeavors.

Jiang Nanchun, chairman of Focus Media, wasted no time initiating an internal investigation following the allegations. The scrutiny extends across subsidiaries nationwide, indicating a concerted effort to address the issue at its core.

Focus Media Wireless, formerly Dotad Media Holding, Limited, was acquired with the aim of diversifying the parent company’s advertising portfolio. However, revelations of unauthorized spamming have tarnished its reputation and cast doubt on its business practices. The company admits to delivering unsolicited commercial advertisements to cell phone users, a practice it vows to rectify upon restoring its message-delivering system.

In response to growing concerns, Focus Media’s CFO, Wu Mingdong, acknowledged the impact on the company’s mobile handset advertising business, foreseeing challenges in the upcoming quarters. The uncertainty surrounding wireless advertising regulations adds another layer of complexity to Focus Media’s predicament.

Richard Ji, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, believes the market’s reaction may be exaggerated, citing the subsidiary’s relatively small contribution to Focus Media’s overall revenue. However, the implications for the company’s planned public listing of its mobile handset advertising business remain uncertain amidst the evolving regulatory landscape.

Despite setbacks, Focus Media remains committed to its long-term vision, albeit with a cautious approach. The company’s focus on emerging sectors such as Internet and digital TV advertising underscores its resilience in adapting to market dynamics.

As Focus Media navigates through turbulent waters, the future of its wireless advertising business hangs in the balance. The road ahead is fraught with challenges, but with strategic adjustments and a commitment to compliance, the company aims to emerge stronger from this ordeal.


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