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Foray into digital TV will sustain NMG's media arms: Suthichai

Suthichai: Once these two engines [Nation TV and Now] are fully operational, NMG hopes to enjoy sustainable growth, while the life span of each print-media business will be extended despite facing a recession.

Suthichai: Once these two engines [Nation TV and Now] are fully operational, NMG hopes to enjoy sustainable growth, while the life span of each print-media business will be extended despite facing a recession.

The head of Nation Multimedia Group believes the upcoming Nation TV and Now digital TV channels will be key engines for the group's sustainable growth amid rapid changes in the media landscape.

"I am aware that print media like newspapers and magazines entered an era of recession many years ago. But in previous times, it was very difficult to persuade journalists to turn their eyes from ink and paper to video and digital media, particularly a 43-year-old company that was born and raised on newspapers like us," said Suthichai Yoon, the chairman of NMG.

Suthichai admitted it was a challenge to motivate NMG news crews to prepare for media convergence.

In 1996, the company became the country's first newspaper operator to diversify into broadcasting, as a co-founder of ITV (Independent Television). The company then established its a 24-hour news station called Nation TV, in 2000 and renamed it as Nation Channel for cable and satellite TV audiences. Today, this is one of the most trusted news stations.

To prepare print journalists for new challenges in broadcasting, last year the company set up the Nation Convergence Newsroom as a platform to reduce the burden of compiling, sharing, brainstorming and utilising daily news content across platforms.

"Having this Nation Convergence Newsroom, it is also the right time for Krungthep Turakij, our flagship daily business newspaper, to spread its wings to fly in the broadcasting arena by creating Krungthep Turakij TV," Suthichai said.

Available on the cable and satellite platforms, Krungthep Turakij TV targets businesspeople and young entrepreneurs by providing business-oriented television programmes and entertainment shows aimed at inspiring investors and top executives.

As planned, NMG subsidiaries won two licences in the auction of 24 commercial digital terrestrial TV channels by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission last year. NBC Next Vision, the holder of a licence for a news channel, is transforming Nation Channel into Nation TV, while Bangkok Business Broadcasting, the holder of a licence for a variety channel in standard definition, will transform Krungthep Turakij TV into Now, under the concept of "Biz-Life Variety", in April.

"Once these two engines [Nation TV and Now] are fully operational, NMG hopes to enjoy sustainable growth, while the life span of each print-media business will be extended despite facing a recession," the chairman explained.

Nation TV, which has more than 14 years' experience in the broadcasting industry and professional teams, aims to post profits within its first year of operation, while Now may take three years to achieve this. NMG also hopes the two will contribute 70 per cent of total revenue, with the rest coming from print-media business, within five years. Currently print media contribute about 70 per cent.

Asked how the group would win this game with 22 other players in the digital-TV field, the veteran journalist quoted Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and former chief executive of Apple. "You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new," Suthichai quoted him as saying.

Nation TV and Now will focus on offering innovative news reporting with different presentations. Innovation in that sense means seamless and limitless engagement with the audience while encouraging them to co-create content and open conversation about key issues of the day with the TV stations.

So the company plans to create "Nation News Cafe" and "Now Hangout" as meeting points for individual news commentators who want to share ideas and comments with news crews from the stations. In the first year, at least 20 meeting points will be put in place in key provinces.

Additionally, the company's position within the Asia News Network, comprising about 20 of Asia's leading newspapers, is important to enhance and improve coverage of Asia affairs, particularly stories in Southeast Asian countries once the Asean Economic Community takes full effect next year.

Because the media landscape changes rapidly, Suthichai said the company had prepared a five-screen strategy to complete its mission as the country's most comprehensive media empire.

Besides Nation TV and Now channel being available soon for 22 million households with TVs, all content managed by the group will also reach a wider audience via mobile phones, tablets, personal computers and outdoor media.

Although this mission is a huge challenge, Suthichai, 66, said half-jokingly that he must delay his retirement to ensure everything gets done. Asked when that would be, he just laughed.


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