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Sat, December 9, 2006 : Last updated 23:04 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Business > Exit of popular shows to hurt MCOT

Exit of popular shows to hurt MCOT

Phatra predicts 5% fall in revenues once Sorrayuth pulls out

The expected departure of two widely viewed prime-time programmes will likely lower MCOT's earnings more than 5 per cent next year, says an analysis by Phatra Securities.

Phatra said in its latest research paper that the company had trimmed MCOT's earnings 5.5 per cent for next year and 5.2 per cent for 2008. The research explained the expected reduction in earnings to "the two renowned news-analysis programmes leaving MCOT, the operator of the Modernine TV network, and it is likely that the replacement programmes will generate less revenues".

The two programmes are produced by Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda, the Kingdom's most popular television news talk-show host.

Phatra called the two MCOT's top programmes, generating roughly Bt360 million in annual revenues - 9 per cent of MCOT's total revenues.

"MCOT has yet to announce replacements, but we expect the new programmes to generate less revenues than the departing ones."

Rai Som, owned by Sorrayuth and producer of the two popular news-analysis programmes "Khui Khui Khao" and "Thueng Luk Thueng Khon" - broadcast from 9.30-10pm and 11pm to midnight, respectively - will not renew its contract with MCOT when it expires at the end of this month. MCOT had accused Sorrayuth of failing to submit proper profit-sharing records to MCOT as required by their agreement.

The negative forecast coincided with the official decision yesterday by MCOT to reshuffle its daily prime-time slots, following the withdrawal of the two major news talk programmes.

MCOT will announce the replacement programmes on December 19.

Acting MCOT president Pongsak Payakvichien said yesterday he had received a letter from Rai Som and Chad Toi Chad Kham, also owned by Sorrayuth, a couple of weeks ago ending the contracts for "Khui Khui Khao" and "Thueng Luk Thueng Khon".

"We'll focus on the strong potential of MCOT staff and news materials made by its Thai News Agency to produce in-depth news analysis programmes to replace "Khui Khui Khao" starting next month.

"The new programme, run by a 'well-known journalist', will be in partnership with an outside television-programme producer," said Pongsak, adding that all news information would be fully supported by MCOT staff and the Thai News Agency.

Pongsak had earlier faced strong criticism from staff for his plan to turn MCOT into a purely educational network by not focusing on profitability.

Pongsak said MCOT was now moving in the right direction towards becoming a knowledge-based station. The news programmes at Modernine station could contribute to higher

revenues compared with soap operas or other types of entertainment contents, he said.

And the existing board of directors has agreed to introduce better news content and in-depth news analysis by using the strength of its news staff and news agency.

"We will also divide the upcoming news programme that will replace "Thueng Luk Thueng Khon" into five major parts to be run on a daily basis, with more than one or two hosts. The move will help the new programme have more variety in content and ideas, made by those who specialise in different news issues," said Pongsak.

"Khui Khui Khao" has been broadcast by Modernine TV since April 2004 and "Thueng Luk Thueng Khon" since September 2003.

Pongsak said that in the past, any changes in television programming at MCOT had been made vertically by the former president and a couple of marketing chiefs. No official committee had been set up to be in charge of improving and developing television programming at MCOT.

"We've recently set up an official committee, with 12 representatives from all related working departments of the station, including the Programme, Marketing, Quality Development and Marketing Research departments. They'll brainstorm to develop direction and development of Modernine TV programming based on an in-depth analysis of marketing information and competition," said Pongsak.

He said all suggestions by independent programme producers would be considered by this new committee.

Another programming committee for MCOT's radio stations will be set up in the near future.

"We have set up a five-year plan for MCOT, starting from 2007, to encourage our staff, from operations to management, to share their ideas and suggestions," said Pongsak.

"We want to make use of the capabilities of all MCOT staff," he said.

Pongsak himself will embark on road shows to major MCOT clients, including private and public organisations like ministries, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Thai Industries, to inform them of its five-year direction and create a good understanding of MCOT's status as a state media agency.

Meanwhile, MCOT is accepting applications for the position of president until December 22. The Nomination Committee will select a candidate, whose name will be submitted to the board of directors for approval. Expectations are that MCOT will have a new boss by January 15.

Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn

The Nation

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