Galaxy slashes pay-TV charge in marketing push

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 12:00am

Competition is intensifying as operators pull the plug on unsuccessful ventures

Pay-television operator Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting has slashed its service charge by 23.8 per cent amid intensifying competition among fewer players.

The pay-television venture of Television Broadcasts has cut the monthly charge for its three-month-old exTV service from $168 to $128.

Customers would need to sign up for 12 months to take advantage of the lower price, exTV chief operating officer Jackey Chan Sek-nin said yesterday.

An exTV spokeswoman said the promotion would be available until at least the end of next month.

Mr Chan said there was still room for exTV to adjust pricing and content, and it would step up its marketing push soon.

ExTV's move to slash its service charge follows rival Yes TV's announcement earlier this month that it would surrender its pay-television licence to the Broadcasting Authority.

Taiwanese niche broadcaster TV Plus also waved the white flag for its business last month.

Their departure has left Hong Kong with four pay-television operators - exTV, i-Cable Communications, NOW Broadband TV and City Telecom. I-Cable, the territory's No 1 sector operator, charges $298 a month for its service while City Telecom's service costs $88.

NOW Broadband allows customers to subscribe to individual channels.

I-Cable subscription services executive director Eric Lo yesterday said the broadcaster would not compete on pricing.

Mr Chan said exTV's network soon would be available to 500,000 homes. It had planned to hit that target by the end of the year. He did not disclose subscriber figures but said he was confident of signing up 75,000 customers by the end of the year.

ExTV has failed to attract a large audience, with its focus on drama and local content failing to offset its lack of sports programming. 'The price is low enough but the content is not attractive at all,' said an analyst at a Singaporean brokerage.

I-Cable has secured exclusive broadcasting rights for football's English Premier League, Spanish Premier League, German League and next month's European championship.

JP Morgan analyst Vineet Sharma wrote in a recent report: 'We do not believe the [pay-television] project will work but we think TVB's management ... did the right thing by pursuing it.'

Galaxy hopes to break even in three to four years, with a client base of 300,000 to 400,000.