CTH faces push for flexibility of programmes
More than 150 local companies have banded together to form the Assembly of Cable TV Operators (ACO) to boost their bargaining power with Cable Thai Holding, which they say seems to be limiting their choice of content providers.The operators are concerned that they must strictly comply with all conditions set out by CTH under a memorandum of understanding that they have signed. For example, CTH will transform them from local TV operators into CTH dealers as a part of CTH's plan to sign up 7 million subscribers in three years. CTH also offers a unified billing system for those subscribers.
Natthachai Arksorndit, president of MSS Cable TV and an ACO leader, said yesterday that more than half |of the 150 cable-TV operators that had inked the MoU were afraid |they would be fully controlled by CTH.
"So they are finding a proper solution if they want to end this MoU under the law," he said.
Although CTH could help small operators install a cutting-edge fibre-optic network, it should allow them to select the programmes transmitted over their networks, said Kampanath Tantivit, general manager of PA Business Phuket, the operator of PA Cable TV.
CTH chief executive officer Kittsanan Ngampatipong has said it would offer 100 standard-definition and 20 high-definition channels. To help its subscribers access better-quality content and transmission technology, it will replace 3 million old analog set-top boxes with new digital ones next year.
Kampanath said the operators would be grateful if CTH understood their point and allowed the operators to offer shows from other content providers such as TrueVisions, GMM Grammy, RS and Kantana Group.
Ong-ard Prapakamol, chief commercial officer of TrueVisions, the country's largest subscription-based TV operator, said his company had bundled 30 exclusive channels in a wholesale package called True Cable Partner for other cable-TV operators.
Dew Waratangtagoon, chief operating officer for platform and strategy at GMM Z, the satellite-TV unit of GMM Grammy, said GMM Z could deliver 12 free-to-air and 15 pay-TV channels via DVB-C (digital video broadcasting - cable) boxes to local cable-TV operators for a Bt40 service fee per box.
This year, GMM Z expects to provide at least 500,000 DVB-C boxes to the cable-TV operators that have contracts with it.