Astro Awani has its pulse on business with Focus Economy, the channel’s first English news and current affairs show, helmed by Suhaimi Sulaiman. HAFIDAH SAMAT writes. TV personality and Astro Awani executive producer Suhaimi Sulaiman is on the brink of revolutionising the local broadcasting landscape.
As relentless in his quest for knowledge as he is in his pursuit to educate viewers at large, the multi-faceted TV compere/host has been responsible for setting standards for the industry as early as the 1990s.
When we met at Astro Awani studio in Bukit Kewangan, Kuala Lumpur recently, Suhaimi was busy recording Focus Economy, the channel’s first English news and current affairs show to join its programme lineup this month.
The show debuted on Astro Awani (Channel 501) on March 9.
It airs every Monday at 11.30pm.His guests — made up of experts from the various creative sectors — were discussing the second stimulus package (which was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on March 10) and how the mini budget can sustain the economy in times of crises.
“The idea for this show came about when the sub-prime crisis started in the United States last year. After discussions with the producers, I knew that the effects would hit our shores eventually,” said Suhaimi.
Focus Economy is tailored as a platform for viewers to obtain perspectives from both sides of the coin.
“Focus Economy takes a different perspective from the other business talk shows. As a responsible media organisation Awani aims to assist the government to spur the growth of our economy,” said Suhaimi, adding that the programme aims at helping viewers cope with the recession.
The rationale to include Focus Economy as the station's maiden English language feature is due to demand.
“The producers have been deluged with requests from viewers to introduce English programmes and we’re glad that it has finally materialised. Our audiences have a strong sense of ownership and we are aware that they want to be a part of the channel. At the end of the day, I believe that a TV station is successful when viewers feel that they’re involved in the programmes. I also hope that viewers will be able to think laterally as the show provides balanced, in-depth news as well as exciting discussions on topical economic issues. With the advancement of new media, viewers have the options to take on the different perspectives in our content. People are worried about the economic downturn and tend to be sceptical about what can be done."
“I’ve about 3,600 friends — ranging from young entrepreneurs to businessmen and CEOs — in my Facebook group and I believe that with their ideas, I can do Focus Economy till 2011.”
Suhaimi, who holds a degree in administration from Portland State University, Oregon in the United States, has helmed several business talk shows during his sterling career which began in the early 1990s.
Here is a TV veteran who is passionate about the broadcasting industry and has a creative take on things.
When he joined Astro Awani, the 47-year-old proved sceptics wrong when he — along with the pioneer team at the station — strived against the odds to steer it into one of the most watched news and current affairs stations.
Suhaimi also introduced some of station’s landmark programmes such as Perspektif Kita and Sudut Pandang — both zooming in on national and international issues.
In his effort to bridge the generation gap between young and established presenters at the station, Suhaimi initiated a mentor-prodigy programme.
He takes on several broadcast journalists under his tutelage under the programme. “The sessions are personalised and fortunately I have a supportive team who is willing to learn,” said Suhaimi, who also co-hosts Agenda Awani, a unique prime-time news bulletin with young anchor Rizal Zulkapli.
The programme discusses, analyses and reports the most compelling news of the day featuring "live" studio guests. The show is aired daily starting 8pm.
Astro Awani general manager Rozina Aziz said the launch of Agenda Awani and Focus Economy signals exciting times ahead for the station.
Prepared by our publicist/strategist -- watch out for it:
In an effort to bring high quality news and current affairs programmes to information-hungry Malaysians, Astro AWANI (Channel 501 Astro) is set to launch two programmes in early March. Agenda AWANI - a unique primetime news bulletin, and Focus Economy - a new current affairs programme, will premiere on 9 March. Rozina Aziz, General Manager of Astro AWANI said, “In launching Agenda AWANI, we are taking a contrarian approach during the traditional primetime news hour."
"We would like to offer viewers an alternative by moving away from giving the A to Z of daily news to focusing on top stories and reporting them in greater detail. We have become known to our loyal viewers as a channel that provides balanced, in-depth news as well as challenging and exciting discussions of topical issues.”
Starting 9 March, Agenda AWANI will be aired LIVE on Astro AWANI as its signature prime time news programme.
This unique bulletin put the top news stories under a misroscope, giving viewers a complete, all-round 360 view.
Fronting the news bulletin will be Suhaimi Sulaiman who has solid experience as a broadcast journalist and anchor, having been in the industry for 18 years.
"Suhaimi is well loved by our viewers who have come to look at him as a force to reckon with when it comes to news and current affairs.” Adds Rozina, “And in true Astro AWANI tradition, Suhaimi will be joined by young, up-coming anchor Rizal Zulkapli, who will have the golden opportunity of learning from his long-time mentor." This will be a big step for this young anchor, but he is intelligent and has proven himself as our principal business anchor.
"Rizal has also anchored special analysis programmes in conjunction with the Malaysian General Elections as well as the US Presidential Debates and Presidential Inauguration. He has also interviewed international leaders and personalities in in-house specials VIP AWANI and Tamu AWANI."
Another programme that will make its debut is Focus Economy which will be a very timely show, showcasing bright sparks in the currently gloomy economic outlook.
The programme aims to unearth great ideas and solutions that could help spearhead growth in the short, medium and long term and help Malaysia ride through the global recession.
Focus Economy will be the first English language programme to be introduced as a regular feature on the channel.
“We have received a lot of requests from viewers asking for us to introduce English language programmes. We have established two strong current affairs programmes – Sudut Pandang and Perspektif Kita – that take a look at issues of the times. Having been on air for 18 months now, we felt the time is right to extend the appeal of the channel to more Malaysians, by offering a weekly programme in the English language. Viewers will enjoy our closed caption feature which will enable them to choose whether they’d like to watch the programme with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles or otherwise,” explained Rozina.
The launch of the two new programmes signal exciting times ahead at Astro AWANI which was launched in September 2007 in conjunction with Malaysia’s 50 years of Independence.
Rozina adds, “We have studied the findings of independent research and commissioned specific research of our own. We also monitor feedback received through various mediums and key blogs to get a sense of how people perceive the channel, what they like about itand what they find lacking. Watch this space, as we will be announcing more new content on the channel, based on the feedback we have received from our viewers.”
Agenda AWANI broadcasts daily from 8.00pm to 9.00pm commencing 9 March.
Veteran TV newsman Suhaimi Sulaiman fronts Agenda AWANI from Mondays to Thursdays while upcoming anchor Rizal Zulkapli helms the bulletin on Fridays and weekends.
Also from March 9, Astro AWANI debuts Focus Economy. It will be hosted by Suhaimi Sulaiman, the weekly programme features fast-paced brainstorming with leaders of major companies and industries, Small & Medium Enterprise leaders and government leaders on various pertinent topics.
Looking for bright sparks at times of gloomy economic outlook, the show will focus on new and attractive ideas, innovations, niche and growth areas, markets, opportunities and collaborations.
Tune in every Monday at 11.30pm for a dose of hope and inspiration. Focus Economy is delivered in English with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles.