Vice Media CEO Shane Smith discusses the company’s bold ambitions at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit.
Vice Media, the growing documentary specialist and online media company, is to launch a 24-hour news channel in 18 countries in 2013, according to CEO Shane Smith.
Speaking at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, Smith said the channel will be “news for young people.”
The New York-based company, which recently produced Snoop Dogg (aka Snoop Lion) documentary Reincarnated, is currently in production on the feature Fishing Without Nets in Kenya and is in the process of shooting an HBO series fronted by Smith, is aiming high. “There’s a changing of the guard within the media…We want to be the largest online media network in the world and we want to do that in every country,” Smith told a rapt audience.
Smith described Vice’s mission: “Young people are very angry and disenfranchised all over the world. Meanwhile if you look at what is number one at the ratings in most countries, it is The Voice and X-Factor - derivative, head-in-the-sand shows. Young people are getting more and more disenfranchised by mainstream media and yet we’re making more and more vacuous TV. TV is derivative of itself. But online has also become derivative of TV. We’re trying to challenge ourselves to be better and start something different. Somebody has to be the voice of the angry youth.”
Vice is now available online in more than 80 countries and via terrestrial in 23, Smith said.
One summit attendee asked Smith how the channel would produce news of a ‘professional’ quality. Smith responded that Vice creative director Spike Jonze found talent out of technical schools and had developed a training programme for potential Vice ‘shooters’. He also highlighted the importance of Vice’s strong in-house post-production facilities: “Globally, we’ll have 500 edit suites by the end of next year. We control our own voice. It’s cheaper and faster.” He also stressed the importance of new lightweight, quality cameras.
Finding stories is the easy part: “Stories are no problem. We have thousands of stories coming in every day.”
Smith told the audience that Vice is a thriving business, funded mostly through advertising: “We like recessions; they are opportunities for the de-stratisfication of power, which means the likes of Vice can take market share. We have no losses or debt… We don’t do branded content; our content becomes associated with brands after the event. Because our balance sheet is so strong we’ve had multiple take-over attempts from majors and other companies.”
Smith also said that the company would be acquisitive in the near future.