Sunday, November 20, 2005

Setting up of a facility in Cyberjaya by Astro



From left to right: Astro All Asia Networks plc chief operating officer David Butorac, Public Bank Bhd PC Card service general manager Chong You Lin and Visa International (Asia Pacific) Ltd Country Manager Malaysia Jeffrey Perera during the launch of Astro's new channel service.


ASTRO All Asia Networks plc has committed some RM300mil over the next five years to bring in new locally produced channels to the market as part of its continuous plans to expand its services.

Chief operating officer David Butorac said these channels, which would include in-house productions, would cover various genres from entertainment to education.

The satellite television provider was not threatened by competition from other players including the free-to-air television operators, as it concentrated on growing its own business, he said.

Last year, Astro's investment for locally produced channels was about RM100mil.

“We're still seeing strong growth in both our subscriber numbers and revenue and we expect that to continue,” he told reporters after the launch of a new channel service for Astro interactive in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Astro is the process of finalising the setting up of a facility in Cyberjaya, which will give it the capacity to launch these new services.

Over the past nine years, it has invested some RM5bil, of which RM2bil was used to subsidise the cost of in-home equipment or set-top boxes for its 5.5 million subscribers.

On its new channel service, Butorac said it would allow Public Bank Visa cardholders to download exclusive offers or TV coupons onto the card via Astro's interactive channel.

“Cardholders can download the coupons, known as Astro Interactive TV-Coupons, from the current 10 merchants, through the unutilised smart card reader of the Astro decoder by tuning to Channel 800 and following the simple instructions,” he said,

The card has a special smart card application to store the coupon information in its chip and is protected by its security functions.

The cardholder can then take his card and visit participating outlets to redeem the vouchers, which include discount vouchers for products, hotel stays and other offers.

Astro expects the service, which is the first in Malaysia, to boost its current TV advertising revenue of 7%.

Public Bank Bhd card services general manager Chong You Lin said currently there were 500,000 PB Visa cardholders and the number was expected to rise to 550,000 by the year-end.

Presently, this new channel service is only available to PB Visa cardholders.



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