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Crucial decisions for satellite-TV broadcasters in evolving digital landscape

AMID THE TRANSITION to the digital terrestrial-TV era, some free-to-air satellite-TV broadcasters are maintaining their operations but seeking segmented audiences and advertisers, while others are considering terminating their service.

This evolving landscape results from the shift of advertising spending via cable-and satellite-TV channels to digital terrestrial-TV channels, starting this year.

According to a forecast by the Media Agency Association of Thailand (MAAT), digital-TV broadcasters will gain about Bt4.9 billion in advertising spending, while key cable- and satellite-TV operators will have brought in about Bt8.1 billion in total by end of this year.

MAAT president Wannee Ruttanaphon yesterday suggested that overall advertising spending via cable and satellite TV would be slashed from last year's level of Bt13.21 billion, with a significant part of the shortfall being allocated to digital-TV channels.

Given this trend, Surapol Perapongpipath, managing director of GMM Digital HD Trading - a subsidiary of GMM Grammy - said his company might end its satellite-TV broadcast service if it witnessed good feedback from its flagship digital-TV channel, One HD, and from Big channel, a digital station in standard-definition service.

One HD will be launched next month after a two-month test run.

"By the end of this year, digital-TV broadcasting service is expected to be used by 70 to 80 per cent of the 22 million households around the Kingdom, mainly via cable- and satellite-TV receivers," he said.

This would help people gain a better understanding about digital-TV services, as well as boost advertisers' confidence to place more emphasis on investment via this new type of service, he said.

Surapol added that by that time, his company might end its current free-to-air satellite-TV channels, such as Fan TV, Bang channel, Green channel and Act channel, in order to manage costs and resources for its two new digital channels.

However, RS - the country's leading music and entertainment firm - appears to be maintaining its satellite-TV business in order to retain ad revenue from companies that still want to spend via its satellite-TV channels, namely, Sabaidee TV, You Channel and Channel 2.

RS secured a digital-TV licence from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and transformed its Channel 8 from satellite-TV service into a digital channel.

"We were aware that we would face intense competition after the arrival of digital TV this year. So the company has prepared two new programmes for the second half of the year in order to attract attention from the mass audience for Channel 2," said Pattira Palawatvichai, executive vice president of television business at RS, told The Nation.

The executive said Channel 2 would launch the "Sod Mai Thailand" news-talk show next month, and the "Muan Duan Mic" variety-contest show in October.

Meanwhile, Surachedh Assawaruenganun, chief executive officer for film business at Kantana Group, said his company's satellite-TV channels - M Channel and Boomerang TV - would be a key marketing tool for distributing its premium content and seeking revenue from targeted sponsors and advertisers.




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