By Sirivish Toomgum
Ookbee is the first company invested in under InTouch’s InVent venture-capital project.
InTouch, formerly known as Shin Corp, launched a Bt200-million corporate venture-capital fund at the end of May to invest in promising information-technology, broadcast content, telecommunication and media businesses, as part of its strategy of diversifying its portfolio. InVent is expected to invest in three more start-up companies this year.
InTouch is the parent of Thaicom and Advanced Info Service.
Natavudh said the capital injected by InVent would be used to develop new digital content platforms and to reinforce existing Ookbee services and sales channels.
Ookbee has set up an office in Vietnam to tap the e-book market there and will soon open one in Malaysia on a similar mission, he said.
Ookbee develops digital publication platforms to permit magazines and newspapers provide content in the form of e-books or e-magazines. It was founded in mid-2010 by Natavudh and his friends.
He claims that Ookbee commands 80 per cent of the e-book market in Thailand. Last year it made around Bt10 million in revenue.
Currently the company’s platform provides about 200 e-books and e-magazines for Thai partners.
As part of a recent filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, InTouch subscribed to a new share issue by Ookbee on September 25. It purchased 33,400 of the newly issued shares, amounting to Bt57.48 million and equivalent to 25.03 per cent of Ookbee’s paid-up capital.
In a related matter, InTouch executive committee chairman Somprasong Boonyachai said the firm was waiting for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to complete all regulations for the granting of licences to operate terrestrial digital TV businesses. It will apply for a licence to operate three digital channels – a high-definition channel, and entertainment channel and an educational channel.
He added that InTouch might set up a subsidiary to run the channels.
The NBTC will soon make at least 48 new digital terrestrial television channels available for potential broadcasters. Its broadcasting committee has approved a draft plan to divide available radio spectra into national digital terrestrial broadcasting services for community-based purposes, public services and commercial uses.
Under this plan, the NBTC will offer 12 standard-definition (SD) broadcasting channels for community-based service broadcasters per area and 12 SD channels for public service broadcasters. Meanwhile, commercial broadcasters will be granted at least 24 channels, comprising 20 SD channels and four high-definition (HD) channels.
The licences for community-based, public-oriented digital TV channels are expected to be granted by end of this year, while commercial broadcasters will get to bid for the spectrum at an auction expected to be held in March.