Sunday, March 22, 2009

In NST Today, Mar 23, 2009


Suhaimi at the forefront By : HAFIDAH SAMAT 2009/03/22

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