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AOL raises China presence with Sun Media Group partnership

The AOL logo is seen at the company's office in New York November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
The AOL logo is seen at the company's office in New York November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - AOL is making a push into China with its digital video studio Makers, which struck a partnership on Thursday with that country's privately held Sun Media Group.

This is AOL's biggest effort in China since it was spun out from Time Warner Inc almost five years ago.

China's Sun Media Group is helping Makers, which produces documentaries focused on women, select and produce content to be shown in China and abroad.

Sun Media is a privately held company founded by Bruno Wu and his wife, the well-known talk show host Yang Lan. It produces several TV shows, including Yang's show "Her Village," and publishes print and online publications.

The partnership with Makers will produce 10 documentaries that will feature subjects like Hu-Shuli, a Chinese financial journalist, and China's first female sociologist, Li Yinhe.

The programs will be distributed online in China through portals such as Tencent, owned by Tencent Holdings, and Sina.com, as well as on the AOL network.

Yang approached AOL about a year ago about a partnership through AOL board director Pat Mitchell, the president and chief executive of The Paley Center for Media organization.

"I have been doing women's programming for quite some time," Yang said in an interview. "I think there is a such a synergy with Makers."

AOL's head of its home page and lifestyle brands, Maureen Sullivan, said the partnership plans to distribute the content and increase its audience rather than immediately focus on revenue.

Still, China represents a big opportunity for companies seeking new audiences and revenue sources.

AOL has been looking abroad lately and has expanded several of its brands to other countries, including The Huffington Post news and opinion website.

AOL launched its consumer technology publication Engadget in China in 2008. Last year, TechCrunch, another AOL technology publication, partnered with China's tech blog TechNode to relaunch the official Chinese language version of TechCrunch.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York)

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