Tycoon Prasert's new PPTV ready for challenges of coming digital era

Corporate October 18, 2013 00:00

By Watchiranont Thongtep
The Nat

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Billionaire Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth's new PPTV satellite channel anticipates the country's transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting, a high-profile executive at Bangkok Media and Broadcasting said.

Under Bt100 million registered capital, Bangkok Media and Broadcasting is wholly owned by Prasert, who has net worth of US$1.85 billion (Bt57.4 billion) and is founder and chief executive officer of Bangkok Airways. He is also a former surgeon who co-founded and operates Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, the operator of the Bangkok Hospital, BNH Hospital and Samitivej Hospital chains. 
PPTV, which started operation this month, dedicates 55 per cent of its airtime to entertainment programmes, 25 per cent for news, 10 per cent for social support and the remaining 10 per cent for educational programmes, a source said. 
Under its tagline “Life Is Awesome”, the channel targets an audience aged between 18 and 35 years. 
Besides being designed to empower people through different perspectives, perceptions, potential and power, the source said “PPTV also stands for Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth’s TV”.
The source said that if the company secured a licence to operate a commercial digital terrestrial channel, it would be used to air PPTV.  
Not surprisingly, in the past couple of weeks, the company has spent a huge amount to promote PPTV via advertisements on major free TV channels, in leading newspapers and via transit media in Bangkok’s business districts. 
Bangkok Media and Broadcasting bought two bid documents to join the auction of 24 commercial digital terrestrial TV licences. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is expected to begin the auction in December. 
The source said the company wished to secure at least one licence to operate a variety channel in either standard or high definition. 
Prasert has been throwing his weight behind media and broadcasting businesses. Last year, the tycoon’s THN Network launched the English-language 24-hour IN Channel on TrueVisions, the country’s leading pay-TV operator. 
At the opening ceremony in last year, ML Nandhika Varavan, managing director of THN Network, who also serves as vice president for corporate communications at Bangkok Airways, commented: “The idea was ignited by the vision of Prasert, who wished to create an English-language TV channel to promote Thailand as a tourism and healthcare destination.”
Apart from Bangkok Media and Broadcasting, Siam Sport Syndicate, the publisher of SiamSport Daily newspaper, also aims to secure a licence to operate a commercial digital channel, this one for news programmes. It has formed a 50:50 joint-venture company, I-Sports Media, with Samart Corporation to clinch this licence in the coming auction. 
Pongsakdi Polanant, director and CEO of Siam Sport Syndicate, said his company would launch a sport news channel if it secured a licence. 
“Entering the digital terrestrial TV era is our key turning point in the company’s three decades,” he said.
Given his firm’s experience in sport-oriented media, Pongsakdi said his channel would produce 60 per cent sports news while the rest would be general entertainment programmes.
Though the CEO declined to comment on how much would be spent on the new channel, he believed that its digital TV business would break even within three years. 
Last year, the company posted revenue of Bt2.4 billion, of which 60 per cent was from publishing business, 30 per cent from show business and 10 per cent from new business including satellite TV and online services. It hopes that thanks to the new digital channel, new business’ contribution will rise to 30 per cent by 2016.

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