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CTH budgets Bt3 bn for TV programmes

Goes for 1m subscribers; foreign, local content in the pipeline

Pay-TV operator CTH, formerly known as Cable Thai Holdings, has earmarked more than Bt3 billion for foreign and locally produced content, aiming to expand its subscription base to 1 million by the end of this year despite the challenge posed by new digital terrestrial channels.

CTH is also planning to partner with other key players in the cable and satellite TV businesses to expand its distribution network as well as provide some of its content to the new digital TV broadcasters.

Chanawat Vachanonda, senior vice president and chief programming and production officer, told The Nation yesterday that CTH would focus on content development this year and was prepared to spend about Bt3 billion in the process. And that budget does not include what it paid for the right to broadcast English Premier League soccer matches.

Some of this investment will be allocated for the acquisition of TV programmes from leading production houses in the United States, Europe, Japan and South Korea, and the rest for local production.

Yesterday the company announced that it had acquired broadcasting rights to programming from WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), a US company that deals primarily with professional wrestling. CTH will air full-length versions of WWE's flagship shows "WWE Raw", "WWE SmackDown", "WWE Main Event" and "WWE Superstars". Under the five-year deal, CTH will offer 11 selected titles in high definition from January 25.

For locally produced programmes, the company says it will strengthen its partnerships with leading content providers such as TV Burabha and Bang-Or as well as a leading filmmaker for entertainment programmes.

CTH will also partner with Buriram United soccer club, expecting more clubs to come. Chanawat added that though the company did not hold the rights to broadcast Thailand Premier League matches, it aimed to build a new audience through three or four leading local soccer clubs' members.

Chanawat said CTH was also interested in providing some content for the new digital TV broadcasters, such as MCOT, which subleased the right to broadcast British Premier League matches on its Modernine TV last year.

After acquiring more foreign content, CTH is considering introducing new packages with lower prices, targeting particular groups such as families and sport fans.

Last year the company faced difficulties expanding its network both on the cable and satellite TV platforms.

It managed to reach only 50 per cent of the 1.5 million cable TV subscribers available through CTH's partner operators. Meanwhile, it secured 200,000 satellite subscribers using both Ku- and C-band dishes.

By the end of this year, the company expects to have at least a million subscribers to both the cable and satellite platforms.


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