Astro shares continue on downtrend

Astro group CEO Datuk Rohana Rozhan said in the statement:

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd continued to extend its losses in yesterday’s trade and closed 11 sen lower at its historical low of RM1.36.

Its weak price performance was in line with the broader market sentiment both locally and worldwide after concerns mounted over the political chaos building up in Italy.

That aside, observers and analysts said Astro would also be impacted by the new government’s decision to show 41 out of the 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup for free on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

The company’s shares, which have been on the downtrend prior to the recent 14th general election (GE14), saw its losses exacerbating after the elections. Astro had further lost some 25% of its value after the elections on heavy volumes.

The satellite pay-TV operator had put heavy emphasis on marketing its World Cup packages and the decision to air the matches for free would likely affect its plans to get additional revenues from this sports event.

The packages, which are advertised on its website as of press time, allow subscribers to purchase the World Cup Channel Pass for RM100 while non-Astro customers can purchase a special pass at a slightly higher price to be able to view World Cup matches through a mobile app.

Investors are also possibly selling Astro in anticipation of the Government’s focus on the free-to-air television offerings.

The new Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said a couple of days ago that RTM’s image should be beefed up to attract more viewers and to adequately compete with private TV stations.

The Pakatan Harapan government’s manifesto for the recent GE14 stated that the party would like to abolish Astro’s monopoly on the satellite TV industry when it becomes the government.

Ideas are also swirling around the media with Pakatan Harapan’s youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad saying that the rights to air the English Premier League should be sub-licensed to RTM instead of having it exclusively streamed on Astro now.

Analysts say it would be interesting to see how the Pakatan government would carry out this manifesto promise because it would cost a substantial amount of money.

“While it sounds noble on the surface, football licensing costs a lot of money and this money would need to be recouped eventually.

“That is probably why there is an increased emphasis by Gobind to immediately revamp and increase the brand presence of RTM,” said an observer.

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