Cablers, satcasters ramp up

Providers see subs increasing, report healthy revs

HONG KONG — The cable and satellite industry is reporting good news across Asia, according to the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia (Casbaa).

“This year, we have seen cable operators and satellite platform providers ramping up the subscriber base and continuing their strong moves into profit,” says Casbaa chairman Marcel Fenez.

“The pay TV channels are reporting increased penetration and healthy revenues as they either consolidate years of hard work or launch new services. And the broadband penetration figures continue to rise.”

In Hong Kong, dominant cable operator I-Cable Communications signed up 10,000 new subscribers in the first three months of the year, bringing its subscriber base to 620,000, with hopes of pushing it to 650,000 by the year’s end.

It reached a new carriage agreement in China for its Horizon entertainment and cultural channel in hotels rated three stars or above and in compounds where foreigners live.

Television Broadcasts’ (TVB) Galaxy will bow in November, with 24 channels including four provided by TVB, which is a 49% investor.

Galaxy’s partner is Intelsat, which will provide the satellite capacity for an expected 40 channels within 18 months of the launch.

In Taiwan, TVB’s overseas arm TVB Intl. is performing well, with its Taiwan cable network TVBS posting an operating profit of $8.08 million for 2002.

Japan’s satellite platform operator SkyPerfect TV reported 3.4 million subscribers and expects to be in profit next year.

Cable operator Jupiter Communications’ subscriber base rose 271,000 to 1.6 million at the end of March, up 20% over the past 12 months.

Singapore’s StarHub CableVision reported an extra 362,000 subscribers at the end of April.

Malaysia’s DTH platform operator Astro, controlled by Measat Broadcast Network Systems, has reached 1 million subscribers. Thailand’s UBC reported nearly 440,000 subscribers at the end of the first quarter this year. Indonesia cable operator KableVision plans to launch a DTH platform in the final quarter of this year, with planned distribution of up to 35 channels within 12 months.

Elsewhere, CNBC Asia-Pacific formed a strategic partnership with the Shanghai Media Group. Celestial Movies, the Chinese movie channel run by Celestial Pictures, signed carriage agreements with Indonesia’s Indovision, Malaysia’s Astro and Singapore’s Star Hub Cable Vision and Brunei’s Kristal.

In China, MTV Networks was granted landing rights for MTV and Nickelodeon in southern Guangdong province.

Separately, Nickelodeon will co-produce and distribute its own television series in Chinese on DVDs and VCDs with Shanghai Audio and Video Press.