By THE NATION WEEKEND
The drop in operating costs is in line with the government’s recently launched relief measures for the telecom and digital TV sectors, NMG chief executive officer Somchai Meesen said on Friday.
Invoking Article 44, the junta ordered the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to waive the remaining fifth and sixth instalments of the licence fees for broadcasters. The NBTC also has to cover the network rental fee for all digital TV licence holders for the remainder of their licence term of nine and half years.
These measures will also pave the way for broadcasters to return their licences to the NBTC.
NMG holds a digital TV licence for Nation 22 and Spring 26 channels.
The Nation 22 channel has witnessed an improvement in audience rating, up from 16 early last year to 10 this year.
This improvement has encouraged the channel to hike its prime-time advertising rate to Bt15,000 per minute from Bt12,000 per minute.
Spring 26 has also seen its viewer ratings jump two points from 13 early last year.
Somchai said NMG was still considering whether to return its licences and was awaiting clarification on the matter, including details on the conditions for the return of the licence and on how NBTC will compensate broadcasters after the licences are returned.
He said that if the compensation does not match the money it has already spent on the business, the company might consider operating both licences, given that the two channels have better advertising revenue and will no longer have to pay licence fees.
As for the print business, NMG will move towards a complete transformation into digital media, focusing on news content and connecting offline and online platforms.
“We [NMG] expect our total revenue to be no less than Bt1.2 billion this year, Bt600 million of which will come from the digital TV business, while Bt500 million to Bt600 million will come from print media,” Somchai said.
Somchai added that NMG will also accelerate the solving of its debt problems, which have dropped to Bt910.50 million from Bt1.57 billion in 2017.
The debts reduced after NMG sold its non-core businesses, allowing the group to reduce its interest payments to Bt88.36 million per year, down from Bt128.36 million. The group also plans to negotiate terms with its creditors to reduce interest and change short-term debts to long-term.
The group will also continue selling its non-core assets, including two plots of land worth Bt56 million and its investments worth Bt200 million. However, raising capital will be the last option, Somchai said, so the impact on shareholders will be minimal.