ASTRO Measat-3 Facing Problem Migrating Channels

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Feb 13 2007
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Measat-3 satellite was launched back in Dec-2006 with lots of “ooh” and “wah” from 50 Malaysians gathered at the Proton Club – some 8 kilometers from the launch pad of Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The Malaysian group was led by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis.
Measat 3, which replaces Measat 1, has a mission lifespan of 15 years. The new satellite is more powerful and will give Measat greater transmission and reception capabilities – at least that’s what it supposed to deliver after spending billions of Malaysia ringgit on it. And it took another nine days since the launched for Measat to be sure it’s working fine.
Astro All Asia Network Plc (KLSE: ASTRO, stock-code 5076), on the other hand hopes the launch of the much-delayed Measat 3 satellite will boost its bottom line. Chief operating officer David Butorac said the new satellite, with 24 transponders (equipment on board the satellite that receives and retransmits signals), would allow Astro to increase up to 50 more channels.
Despite being a pay-television, the 8 million Malaysia viewers are being feed with advertisements when it should be ads-free. Astro has the nerve to comment that it will continue to air advertisements because they contributed about RM150mil to the company’s coffers yearly. In Malaysia where competition is a rare commodity and monopoly by big and political-linked companies are the de-facto of doing business, end-users seem to have no other choice but to keep silent with their hands tied.
But what happen since then? It seems the integration or migration of the channels to the new Measat-3 is hitting the walls for some subscribers. There were reports especially high-rise residential viewers that there’re many channels “missing” from their subscription. “Service Is Not Available” was the greeting message when most of the condominium residents try to select their favorite channels since three days ago.
What made subscribers furious was the dinosaur-age service-level provided when the affected customers made a call to customer support (Astro website shows old obsolete number which will re-direct callers to 1300-82-3838 instead) only to be greeted with “Customer Service reps are busy … Please wait” and put onto music and advertisements for hours.
When the customer service reps finally called up, the Astro’s customers were then told to perform some stupid steps such as on & off the decoder to be on standby mode failing which customers were given another number to call which turns out to be sub-contractors who only do first-time installation jobs. Astro further put the blame on high-rise management with lame-excuses that the problem could be due to wiring and so on. “But before the migration everything was working fine” – a subscriber said. It seems the company owned by Ananda Krishnan is interested in nothing more than sucking the money from the customers without thinking about the quality services that the subscribers are entitled to.
This is another classic example of how monopoly will never benefit public as a whole.

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