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Producers get ready to help |provide content for new digital TV channels

MANY TV content providers have shifted into high gear to develop programmes for the upcoming 24 digital television channels.

After these channels debut in April, it will be a huge challenge for the broadcast industry to manage airtime, with the 24 digital channels needing 576 hours of programming a day, a massive increase from the 144 hours a day filled by the existing six analog channels.

To cope with that demand, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will allow all digital TV broadcasters get help from other content providers in co-production, but for no more than 40 per cent of total available airtime.

Last week Kantana Group, one of the country's leading entertainment producers, announced its readiness to provide appealing content to the operators of the new digital channels.

It said it was well equipped with home-grown productions, as well as a large library of well-recognised international formats, and could also collaborate with other major production houses. Examples of international TV formats that the company has secured are "Gossip Girl", "Ugly Betty", "The Face", "Don't Lose the Money", "The Taste", "Thailand Idol" and "Slide Show".

Kantana Group executive chairman Jaruek Kaljareuk said his company's TV production arm was looking forward to partnering with six digital broadcasters. Under these new partnerships, he believes that the production unit will generate between Bt1.6 billion and Bt1.7 billion in revenue this year, up from Bt1.2 billion last year.

The company has budgeted Bt500 million for TV production and another Bt200 million to secure broadcasting rights for those TV formats.

Thakoon Boonparn, general manager of Matichon Plc, publisher of the Matichon daily newspaper, said his company's partnership with Workpoint Entertainment to produce and supply news programmes for Workpoint TV would continue to be his firm's key collaboration. Workpoint TV will soon be available on the digital terrestrial platform after being carried on the satellite TV platform.

However, Thakoon said Matichon was also in talks with several other broadcasters on producing TV programmes for them.

Ratiwan Srimongkolkul, president of JSL Global Media, said previously that she foresaw huge opportunities from the birth of digital terrestrial TV.

Kantana Group, Matichon and JSL Global Media did not take part in the NBTC's licence auction for 24 commercial digital terrestrial TV channels last month.

According to Kasikorn Research Centre, the market value of the TV production business this year will grow by about 14-16 per cent to between Bt32.7 billion and Bt33.3 billion, from last year's Bt28.8 billion.

I-Sport - a joint venture between Samart Corp and Siam Sport Syndicate - will also produce sports content to serve the digital-TV licence holders after failing to grab a licence for a standard-definition (SD) digital news channel last month.

Subhasiddhi Rakkasikorn, director of I-Sport Co, said it expected to spend Bt150 million on setting up a new studio to produce content for other operators.

"Many of those who won digital TV channel licence are approaching us now," he said.

I-Sport, which operates three satellite TV channels, expects profit of Bt50 million this year on revenue of Bt150 million. Its annual advertising revenue is Bt60 million. Last year its revenue was Bt120 million and profit Bt30 million.

Watchai Vilailuck, president of Samart Corp, said I-Sport had budgeted only Bt1 billion to bid for an SD news channel and the bids went too high for it to prevail. The final bids for the seven SD news licences ranged from Bt1.34 billion to about Bt1.3 billion.

According to the NBTC's schedule, by June, people in 11 key provinces - half of the country's 22 million TV-equipped households - will be able to watch public and commercial channels on digital terrestrial television after its official launch on April 1.

In April, residents in Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and Songkhla will be the first group in the Kingdom to experience this new digital service. In May, residents in Ubon Ratchathani, Surat Thani and Rayong will get access to this cutting-edge broadcasting service, and people in Sing Buri, Sukhothai, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani will get the chance in June.


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