A year to forget for True big boss

The Year of the Dragon was apparently a bad one for Suphachai Chearavanont, the head of True Corporation, Thailand's leading telecom conglomerate.

Suphachai: Hurt by penalty kicks

The son of the country's wealthiest tycoon faced a slew of thorny problems, especially with his cable TV unit.

The trouble began with the failure of TrueVisions to secure the rights to broadcast Euro 2012, one of the world's most popular football tournaments.

About 2 million TrueVisions football fans were left looking at a black screen with an apology for the ban.

TrueVisions was asked to pay a 20,000-baht daily fine by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission for failing to rebroadcast Euro 2012 football matches.

To this end, the NBTC's broadcasting committee approved a draft of must-carry rules, requiring free-TV broadcasters to transmit all their content through all broadcast platforms in the country without any conditions.

Before the year's end, Mr Suphachai faced another headache with TrueVisions after it failed to secure the broadcast rights for English Premier League (EPL) football, losing out to newly founded Cable Thai Holding.

Industry analysts expressed concern that the loss would hit the company's ratings and viewer subscriptions, as the EPL is a key attraction with sky-high viewership.

But Mr Suphachai insisted that his company would retain many subscribers, as only 10% of the company's customers were signed up for EPL packages.

To compensate, Mr Suphachai said the company would spend up to 5 billion baht to add at least 10 channels, including high-definition options.

True expects the ranks of its cable subscribers to rise by 20% to 2.4 million in 2013, out of 15 million cable households in the country.

On top of all this, uncertainty remains over True's 3G network deal with concession provider CAT Telecom, still under heavy scrutiny.