Business

New pay TV player ABN to roll out by Q2

By Melissa Chi
January 18, 2012

Chief Executive Officer and Director Sreeedhar Subramaniam said ABN will not only offer video services but is looking into offering broadband services as well.

“Our first goal is to really roll out video services. That is our first goal and we want to make it interactive so we are not just going to be delivering linear channels.

“There will be on demand content just like what you are doing with your computer... you will be able to browse for titles of content and pull it as and when you require it,” he explained.

He also pledged that its packages will be lower than current pay-TV players such as Astro All Asia Networks plc (Astro) and several IPTV providers including Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM).

“All I would say is it (the packages) would be lower because we have made a commitment to the government that we will provide an affordable service and the beauty of the platform we are using, cable TV, is that the cost structure allows us to do that,” he told reporters after the announcement of the strategic alliance between ABN and Motorola.

The Malaysian Insider had previously reported that businessman Datuk K.K. Eswaran, who has close ties with Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s family, is behind the new cable television venture ABN, formerly known as Nilamas Corporation Sdn Bhd.

Nilamas secured the requisite licence to offer subscription broadcasting in the country from the industry regulator, Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission, on August 11 and with this licence it is allowed to offer broadcasting services for a fee.

The company also has network facilities licences that will allow it to build up a network and also a network service provider licence. The licences are valid for five years.

Sreedhar (picture) said the set-up cost for the cable network offering is expected to be more than RM2 billion over a 10-year period and Nilamas, according to sources, is looking at a 40:60 equity-debt combination to fund its venture. The new brand was launched on November 15.

The television industry veteran told reporters the company was in talks with numerous content providers, about 140 channels and had already signed on to about one third of them.

“Some of it may be similar content that other pay TV providers are providing today. Others would be content that Malaysians have never seen before which is to me, a very exciting proposition,” he said.

He said he expects to provide least 40 video channels for its initial package.

Satelite TV operator Astro began service in 1996 with 22 channels and took a decade to break even. It currently broadcasts some 125 pay-TV channels in four major languages including eight channels in high definition across Malaysia and Brunei to more than 2.93 million households.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that the new venture would use fibre for its backhaul which will be leased from fibre operators such as TM, Time dotCom Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Fiberail and Fibercom.

Sreedhar, who served previously as chief operating officer in NTV7 and then chief executive of The Malaysian Insider, declined to name which operators ABN had signed up with the new outfit.

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