GSAT – Global Satellite launched

Has anybody heard about GSAT or global satellite, a direct-to-home satellite TV targetting households beyond the reach of cable TV service?  Anyway, there are rumors that three taipans have invested at least PhP250 million to launch GSAT as the biggest and widest satellite TV in Asia.

These taipans include David Lim, president and chief executive of the Solid Group; William Tieng, chairman and chief executive of Solar Entertainment Corp.; and Philip Chien, president of cable TV provider Global Destiny.  Together, they formed First United Broadcasting Corp. to operate GSAT.

Although GSAT had already been promoted for several months in the past, First United has just recently obtained a franchise from the National Telecommunication Commission or NTC.  With the launching of GSAT, it will compete with the likes of Cignal, the direct-to-home satellite TV of MediaScape, a subsidiary of PLDT and Dream Satellite TV of businessman Tony Boy Cojuangco.

A monthly subscription of as low as PhP200 is offered for basic GSAT package with 14 channels and additional PhP100 for Western Package, which adds 9 channels. The cost of installation with a one-year subscription is about PhP7,200, including the satellite dish and satellite receiver.

Mr. David Lim said that of the 14 million households in the Philippines, only about 1.5 million to 2 million households are reached by cable TV.  

He said that on top of the P250 million investment in infrastructure, they will make additional investments to acquire and help subsidize the cost of equipment that subscribers need to hook up to the GSAT network.  These equipment include satellite dish and satellite receivers.  

Mr. Chien of Destiny said GSAT will not compete with cable operators, which they see as partners in reaching households in remote areas or islands.

NTC commissioner Ruel Canobas said the launching of GSAT is another milestone in the Philippine broadcasting industry.  "The launch reflects continuing confidence of business in the Philippine economy," he said.  Canobas said this also proves that pay TV is alive and a vibrant industry in the Philippines.

GSAT's satellite communication service is provided by SES New Skies and Conax.

Among the channels available in the GSAT Baci and Wester Packages are the locally developed Global News Network, Global Pinoy Cinema, MGM Channel, BBC News, History Channel, Discovery Science, Nickelodeon, Aljazeera, Solar Sports, Jack TV, Basketball TV, National Geographic, and Bloomberg.

"GSAT's marketing penetration strategy is centered on nationwide distributorship.  We are partnering with dealers and agents in and around the Philippines to promote the service and in turn benefit from attractive income opportunity, lifetime account ownership and subsidy on promotional and training requirements," the company said.

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