Thai Pay TV Companies To Merge

Thai Pay TV Companies To Merge

Bangkok, Thailand, 17 February 1998 (SAT-ND) -- The economic crisis in
Thailand has forced the country's largest pay-TV operators to merge.
International Broadcasting Corp. (IBC) signed an agreement to take an 86
percent stake in Universal Television Cable Network (UTV), the companies
said in a joint statement.

IBC and UTV, which currently have an effective duopoly in the pay-TV market
in Thailand, have a combined subscriber base of about 300,000 people, 60
percent of which are UTV clients.

"Taking into account the current economic climate and foreseeable
difficulties in the coming years, IBC and UTV have decided to unite their
pay-TV businesses to enable them to survive this difficult time," the
statement said, adding that both firms' assets totalled three billion baht
(US$64 million.)

The two companies will keep their names and licenses but have a single
management team. here would be no change in subscribers' fees until the new
executive team takes control in both company in April. Programming on both
pay-TV packages will be changed to the effect that they eventually offer
the same, which enables costs to be lowered by combining programme
purchasing. Subscribers would be able to choose between UTV's fibre-optic
cable and IBC's satellite system (IBC is owned by Shinawatra, which also
operates the Thaicom satellites.)

According to reports, the companies' combined losses are estimated at the
equivalent of US$136 million. They are mainly caused by skyrocketing
operational costs in the wake of the fall of the Thai baht. Up to 900 staff
could be laid off after the merger. Company executives have meanwhile
rejected those figures, saying that the number of people to be made
redundant and the reported losses of the firms was "greatly exaggerated."

Source: Sat-ND, 16 February 1998

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