Pay Back

April 17, 2009 (LBO) – The pay TV business of Sri Lanka’s Dialog Telekom group will take time to become profitable, with break even estimated at around 250,000 customers, its chief executive Hans Wijayasuriya said. Losses in the pay TV business of the company, a unit of Telekom Malaysia, contributed to an annual group loss of 2.8 billion rupees in 2008, against a profit of 8.9 billion a year earlier.

Wijayasuriya said the experience elsewhere in pay TV is that it usually takes time to sign on enough subscribers to achieve break even.

“Dialog TV has a projection of achieving a break even point at around 250,000 customers,” Wijayasuriya told LBO in an interview. “We now have 150,000.

“As is the case in the pay TV industry worldwide, it takes some time to get to that critical mass of customers, to therefore amortise the cost of satellite bandwidth, satellite transponders, and also content and programming costs.”

Wijayasuriya, who is also group chief operating officer of Malaysia’s TM International, the parent firm of Dialog Telekom, said Dialog’s pay TV business was growing well but declined to say when it would start making money.

“I would not want to comment on a specific time frame, but D