MCOT, the state-majority-owned media group and operator of two digital TV channels MCOT HD and MCOT Family, has restructured its business portfolio with the launch of a new digital department to oversee new digital platforms that will fully utilise its news and information content.
Kematat Paladesh, president and vice chairman of the risk management committee, said that the launch of the digital platforms is aimed at diversifying business risk amid a decline in advertising budgets spent on TV and a rising trend for other media platforms, especially online.
“We (MCOT) have set up a digital department, which will work hand in hand with outsourced partners for enhancing such digital activities, such as cloud-based storage and info-graphic data. We have also recruited digital programmers to develop infrastructure works, such as cloud-based video footage and data analytics,” said Kematat.
He said that MCOT has three major sources of revenue, comprising advertising income earned from its television and radio stations, as well as from media concessions.
“Today, between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of MCOT revenue is from TV advertising. In the next two to three years, we expect half of our revenue will remain from TV advertising, and another 30 per cent will from radio. Meanwhile, 20 per cent of our revenue will be from new digital platforms in the next two to three years, up from only 1 per cent today,” said Kematat, adding that revenue from media concessions will decline gradually to none in the next few years.
MCOT operates 62 radio stations, of which six are under FM signals.
“This will be the new era of MCOT,” he said. “We (MCOT) want to be in the new media business, reshaping by the launch of new digital platforms. The new portfolio is to replace declining revenue in concessions and to diversify any risk raised by the declining revenue from TV advertising to be shared by other media platforms.”
Kematat said that the key problem at MCOT is that the media firm is stuck with the structural hierarchy and mindset of staff that are used to working for a state-owned organisation running traditional media.
“We are trying to communicate with a group of personnel at MCOT who have such conservative ideas. We try to recruit new, younger staff to move the business forward, especially with the adding of the new digital-based platforms,” he said, adding that the new artificial intelligence technology can be used to transform recorded voice clips, for example, into other forms of information, such as text and visuals.
MCOT recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China International Broadcasting Network (CIBN)’s OCTV Asia Terminal for strategic cooperation, especially for the exchange of content and technologies.
MCOT also joined with INET to launch the M Wink project, which is set to offer a digital interactive experience to audiences by integrating communication and broadcast technologies.
Kematat was speaking on Sunday in a speech on the “survival alternatives for local media: the new paradigm of management”, during the orientation for new students in a master’s degree programme held by the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication at Thammasat University. He said that local media industry, especially digital television and print media, is facing critical challenges raised by both controlled and uncontrolled factors.
For uncontrolled factors, they are the emergence of media laws and regulations, as well as technologies, including the establishment of two national councils, respectively, for journalism and consumer protection.
He said that as the regulators, members of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) are not persons involved in the media industry and they do not actually understand the local media industry.
However, local media firms need to adjust their organisations and strategies to cope with those controlled factors, which take in the human, money and content dimensions.
“Today media personnel should have multi-skilling capabilities. Media organisations should select to do the area of activities they are expert on, and avoid doing those in which they don’t have expertise, ” said Kematat.
He said that media organisations should reshuffle their management structures to be in line with the new technologies. They should find new strategic partners to adopt new digital technologies and creative content, as well as recruiting new customers to diversify business risks. Media organisations should know more, including in-depth knowledge of consumers, especially younger and elderly people.
The building up of Big Data is significant for the new era of digitalisation. The media companies should also focus on building up their own position and brand awareness to accumulate credibility in long term, Kematat said.
“Digital TV is quite similar to department store operators, who do have their own house-brand products but rely on outside manufacturers,” he said. “We, as a digital TV operator, also do not have our own content but rely heavily on outside content providers. What has already happened today is that major content providers have set up their own digital TV stations to run their own contents. So, to survive in the business, we need to create our own quality content, as well as a clear positioning and character on what we would like ourselves to be.”