Thai cable TV operator lobbies for airing of imported ads

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BANGKOK--Thailand's leading cable TV operator, United Broadcasting Corp., is using the results of a survey to try and persuade the country's broadcasting authorities to allow it to air "pass-through" commercials that come with imported programs from suppliers such as CNN or CNBC.

Current broadcasting laws bar the company from carrying any advertisements on its channels. United is forced to blank out any 'imported' ads with a static intermission slide. Currently, no other country in the region bars its pay-TV broadcasters from airing pass-through commercials during pre-packaged, imported programming.

According to results of a survey United sent to its estimated 340,000 subscribers, 88% of respondents preferred the commercials over intermission slides, even if they are foreign and not related to products or services available in the Thai market.

The poll's results have been forwarded to the Mass Communications Authority of Thailand (MCOT), which originally granted the company's broadcasting concession, to decide whether pass-through commercials should be permitted in the future, says a United spokeswoman.

The move is seen by some industry experts as an attempt by United to pave the way for eventually airing revenue-generating commercials from local companies in the future. United has in the past petitioned government authorities to change the laws accordingly to allow the operator to sell advertising slots, noting it's incurring losses after three years of business.

Copyright October 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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