KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Reuters) -- Malaysia's fifth broadcaster goes on air Friday, promising a stiffer fight for advertising in an industry seeing minimal revenue growth, analysts said.
The new station is Channel 9, which is targeting young and urban English-speaking viewers.
It said within a year it hopes to capture 10 percent of the local television advertising market, officially worth 912 million ringgit ($240 million) in 2002.
But rather than expand the pie, the new channel is likely to poach viewers from RTM 2, the main channel of state-owned Radio Televisyen Malaysia, and privately-run NTV 7 -- which have similar lifestyle, entertainment and sports shows, analysts say.
"I fear if they're successful, they might cannibalize more of RTM 2 and NTV's revenue than widen the market's volume," James Selva, media consultant at Media Mappers, told Reuters.
Sistem Televisyen Malaysia, the only listed broadcaster in the country, known as TV 3, commands half the television advertising revenue and a third of the viewers, estimated at 12.6 million from a population of 24 million.
Trading in Sistem Televisyen shares was suspended on April 29 as part of a restructuring exercise by debt-ridden parent Malaysian Resources.
Although industry revenue had grown an average of 20 million ringgit a year in the last six years, television as an advertising medium was shrinking. It accounted for 27 percent of media turnover in 2002, compared with 30 percent in 1997.
Selva said TV 3 and RTM 2 boosted their programming in the first six months of the year and raised their market share by 3.5 and 3.8 percent, respectively, from a year ago. That came at the expense of NTV 7, which lost 6.7 percent in the same period.
Analysts said the competition could get stiffer by next year when, Astro, the country's only satellite television station, starts fighting for the same advertising budgets devoted to the other four broadcasters.
Industry officials estimate Astro earned 120 million ringgit through advertising last year, which is not included in the overall industry figure.
The satellite broadcaster is not in direct competition with the other stations yet as it does not have the same ratings structure. What it does have is dozens of channels and a million subscribers for offerings that include live English Premier League soccer and an array of popular U.S. soaps.
Other television stations in Malaysia operate only one channel each, except for RTM, which runs two.