None of the questions posed by me here regarding the monopoly by Astro regarding Pay TV when I was debating the 2011 Budget debate last week have been answered by the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Information, Multimedia & Culture, YB Datuk Joseph Sallang Gandum. We all know that Astro is a monopoly in the Pay TV industry and there was no or very little control over it. So far we can see that Astro is allowed to air tv commercials when other Pay TV compnaies were not allowed to do so. Why the special privileges given to Astro and not others?
To day I presented to the Deputy Minister with the following glaring facts about Astro as at 31-01-2010:
1. The total subscribers for Astro was 2.93 million;
2. Out of the 2.93 million suscribers, 1.7 million are Malay (1 Astro for every 2 homes of Malay), 670,000 Chinese, 319,000 Indian and 222,0000 others;
3. Total revenue was RM3.3 million;
4. Total revenue for HD alone was RM302 million;
5. Yearly net profit was RM689 million:
6. Director fees RM1.18 million and director salaries RM2.477 millions.
RTM was also paying many millions of RM to supplier to supply popular programes like Discovery, ESPN, Star Movies, HDB, Carton Networks and National Geography and etc.
Bearing in mind that Astro was making a net profit of RM689 millions as at 31-01-2010, the subscirption charged by Astro is definitely far too high, which can be lowered. But the Ministry was not doing anything to stop Astro monopoly for Pay TV to protect public interest. Monopoly in any industry is a dirty word for the rakyat. It is for this reason that the government is controlling the essential services provided by TNB, Syabas and etc.
The Minsitry should encourage more competitions like in the handphone industry. Competitions among the Pay TV companies can only bring benefits to the rakyat whereby the rakyat will end up paying lesser monthly subscription fees with better services due to competition.
The Deputy Minsiter did not reply why the Government was not taking any actions to break the monopoly of Pay TV by Astro except praising Astro as though he is the salesman for Astro.
I shall persue this matter during the Committee Stage next week.