It came from our investor Dr. Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth [CEO of Bangkok Airways] and M.L. Nandhika Varavarn [vice president for corporate communications of the airline and MD of the channel]. Basically they wanted to create a new standard for locally made English TV. Nandhika recruited people from different areas of the industry for the channel, including me. I'm in charge of entertainment programming. These include shows that are produced in-house, outsourced and syndicated. IN Channel is 70 per cent entertainment, 30 per cent news.
HOW IS THE CHANNEL DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS OUT THERE?
There's no English channel at this standard in Thailand. The English programmes made here look very documentary-oriented or are good by Thai standards but may not be up to par with regional levels of quality. As a local audience, you have many choices of English programmes here, but foreigners are used to better quality shows. What also makes IN different is the timing. I think Thais are ready for something like this. Before I left Thailand for Singapore, there was some English content floating around. Then the industry became saturated with lakorn and we drove away English content. I remember watching some hosts at that time who were English-speaking Thais. I thought that it was so cool and that they represented me. I could easily watch overseas programmes but I felt closer to Thai talents who speak English. I think it's time to introduce English content that we, as Thais, present ourselves while representing ourselves.
WHO IS IN CHANNEL AIMED AT?
Our target audience is middle to upper class Thais with some foreign education and Thai uni students. The other main group is expats. I think the market is really big even though people keep saying things like, "Why do you want to do an English channel?" and "Who's gonna watch it?" If we never do it, it will never happen.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES OF CREATING AN ENGLISH CHANNEL IN THAILAND?
We are not an English-based society so, in terms of the number of people available, from production crew to script writers to talents, is limited at this point. But I'm positive that we have Thai people who can work for an English channel out there. We have international universities. We also now have many Thais who are worldly and can speak English.
WHAT EFFECT MIGHT THE INBOUND ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY HAVE ON IN CHANNEL?
Not only will we be able to capitalise on the local market but regional markets as well. If we get a jump start now, as a country, it shows we welcome competitors and opportunities to grow. That's why I don't understand people who doubt the viability of an English channel in Thailand. We're thinking ahead. If we start one first, other channels may follow. The competition will then grow. It's the same with local TV that has to compete with each other. We want to become a regional player.G
About the author
- Writer: Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
Position: Guru Reporter