Cable TV Makes Thai Inroads

The cable TV market is rapidly heating up in Thailand with several consortia and joint ventures trying to get in on the act.

United Communications Industries (UCOM) recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mass Communications Organization of Thailand (MCOT) to operate a cable television service.

The new service will begin broadcasting in 1995. Initial investment will be about 1 billion Baht ($40 million) for hardware imported from the U.S., Europe and Japan. UCOM will hold 90% of the joint-venture company. Transmission will be by fiberoptic cables in cities and satellites in rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT) is to join Telecom Holding and Universal TV in a joint venture to lay fiber-optic cables to the homes of pay TV subscribers.

market TOT chairman Roonroj Sriprasertsuk also has decided to allow other companies such as Intl. Broadcasting Corp. (IBC) to join the joint venture. This joint venture will require an initial investment of about 800 million Baht ($36 million). TOT will hold a 49% stake in the new company.

Existing cabler Thai Sky is planning to issue convertible bonds worth 1.5 billion Baht ($60 million). The funds raised will be used to improve Thai Sky’s nationwide signal and news production facilities. Thai Sky is hoping to be listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) next year.

The various new cable services which are expected to come on line in 1995 can only be good news for the local TV drama production industry, per independent producer Yuvadee Thaihiran. Dramas are the staple diet of Thai TV audiences.

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