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BANGKOK The Mass Communication Organization of Thailand (MCOT) is set to launch its first English-lingo channel worldwide, which it hopes will compete with the BBC and CNN to give overseas auds "a window to the East."

Initial investment in MCOT Television will be more than $25 million, according to MCOT topper Mingkwan Sangsuwan.

The around-the-clock channel will be listed on the Thai Stock Exchange in September and an initial public offering of 25% of its share will help raise more funds. MCOT will start working on the project next year and the 24/7 broadcast will be phased in over the next two years.

The Finance Ministry will hold a 75% stake in the company after the listing, and foreign investors will be restricted to holding no more than 15% of shares.

MCOT plans on leasing several satellite transponders from operators worldwide to make sure its signal will reach audiences around the globe. But only those with a dish will be able to see the programs within Thailand.

Most programming will be produced by Panorama, MCOT's 90%-controlled subsidiary, with a focus on does. Production companies will be added in the future through acquisitions.

Local staff will be trained to cover regional news, especially in Southeast Asia, and MCOT, which also operates the Thai News Agency, will help support the operation.

MCOT, which is being privatized, owns concessions for terrestrial channels 9 and 3, pay box UBC and 62 radio stations.

Recently, the Cabinet approved its sale amid criticism it could violate the 1997 constitution that calls for a National Broadcasting Commission to oversee media liberalization.

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Title Annotation:Television/International; The Mass Communication Organization of Thailand launches first English-lingo channel
Author:Amnatcharoen, Bam
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Aug 16, 2004
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