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McClatchy-Tribune  06/20/2014 12:01 AM ET
Suspension of coupon scheme hits expo [Bangkok Post, Thailand :: ]

June 20--Faltering demand for new digital set-top boxes as well as for TV sets is expected to have a major effect on sales at this year's Commart Thailand Expo in the aftermath of the suspension of the distribution of coupons for the boxes.

"This is the first time that Commart has provided a space for digital TV this year, accounting for nearly 30% of the total space," said Pathom Indaradorm, chief executive of Arip, organiser of Commart NextGen 2014.

The country's largest computer trade show started yesterday at Queen National Sirikit Convention Center in Bangkok and will run until Sunday.

Due to the temporarily suspension of the digital TV coupon distribution, several exhibitors have made a last-minute decision not to join the event which resulted in a 20% decline of its digital TV space.

Mr Pathom said the company expected sales transactions at the four-day event to drop to 2 billion baht, down from 2.8 billion last year.

He attributed it to the reduction in exhibition space that effects IT vendors.

The best-selling products will be notebooks, smartphones and tablets, plus digital TV-related products thanks to the Fifa World Cup.

He said the overall information communications technology market is likely to experience zero growth, reaching 70-80 billion baht this year, due to a resurgence in consumer confidence in the second half following the May 22 military coup.

Demand remains for replacement computers, smartphones and tablets in the low- to mid-price range (5,000 to 12,000 baht).

However, in the first half, IT sales have declined by 15-20%, representing a 20 billion baht loss for the industry as the political crisis dragged on.

"If political stability is restored, IT users will generate 100 billion baht a year," Mr Pathom said.

John Rattanaveroj, vice-president of Arip, said the temporary halt in the distribution of digital set-top box coupons is an opportunity for digital TV manufacturers to revamp their existing plans and make them stronger as the industry needs a couple of years to settle due to the lack of good ratings, changes in consumer behaviour and more free TV channels and digital TV programmes.

Prapat Rathlertkarn, chief executive of Planet Communications Asia Pacific Plc, said his company had joined Commart for the first time but had to slash its digital TV set-top box prices by 30-35% to make them affordable and in line with the NBTC's coupon programme.


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