The Nation



3 digital TV licences for BEC

NMG, four others take two licences each in high-priced auction

The operator of Channel 3 grabbed three licences for commercial digital terrestrial TV channels with combined bids of Bt6.471 billion to become the biggest spender at the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's two-day spectrum auction, which ended yesterday.

Nation Multimedia Group (NMG), GMM Grammy, TrueVisions; the publisher of TV Pool magazine, and MCOT each took home two licences.

BEC-Multimedia, which is owned by Bangkok Entertainment Company - the operator of analog terrestrial Channel 3 - achieved its goal of winning licences for both high-definition (HD) and standard-definition (SD) variety channels and a third licence for a children's-and-family channel. It bid Bt3.53 billion for the HD variety channel, Bt2.275 billion for the SD variety channel; and Bt666 million for the children's channel.

NMG was among the top winners that clinched licences in two separate categories, winning a variety SD licence with a bid of Bt2.22 billion and a news channel licence with a bid of Bt1.338 billion.

Leading music and entertainment firm GMM Grammy grabbed a variety HD licence with a Bt3.32-billion bid through its subsidiary GMM HD Digital TV, and a variety SD licence for Bt2.29 billion through subsidiary GMM SD Digital TV.

TrueVisions, the country's largest pay-TV operator, won a variety SD licence for Bt2.315 billion via its sister company True DTT and a news TV licence with a Bt1.316-billion bid via its affiliate Thai News Network.

MCOT, the operator of analog terrestrial Modernine TV, secured a variety HD licence with a bid of Bt3.34 billion and a children's channel licence with a bid of Bt660 million.

Thai TV, the publisher of TV Pool magazine, won a news channel licence with a Bt1.328-billion bid and a children's channel licence, bidding Bt648 million. The company has long experience putting out publications relating to star gossip and entertainment TV programmes.

Yesterday, the NBTC held auctions for seven news and three children's channels. The competition was as fierce as it was on Thursday, when the commission held auctions in the HD and SD categories.

While bids in the HD category were all over Bt3 billion - against the Bt1.51-billion reserve price - those in the SD category were well over Bt2 billion, against a reserve price of Bt380 million.

In the news channel category, which had a reserve price of Bt220 million, the bids were well over Bt1 billion. The category raised a total of Bt9.238 billion.

Ten companies vied for seven news-channel licences. Post TV, Mono Generation and I-Sport Media failed in their bids.

Kids/Family channels

In the children's-and-family channel category, which had a reserve price of Bt140 million, the bids were all over Bt600 million. The category raised a total of Bt1.974 billion. Six companies vied for three licences for kid's channels.

On Thursday, in the variety HD channel category, with a reserve price of Bt1.51 billion, nine companies joined the bidding for seven variety HD licences. BEC-Multimedia of Channel 3 ended up with the highest bid of Bt3.53 billion. This category raised a total of Bt23.7 billion.

In the variety SD channel category, from a starting price of Bt380 million, 16 firms contended for seven HD channels. Thai Broadcasting ended up with the highest bid of Bt2.355 billion. Meanwhile, Bangkok Business Broadcasting, a subsidiary of NMG, was also among the winners with a final bid of Bt2.2 billion.

Arthid Nanthawithaya, senior executive vice president of Siam Commercial Bank, believed the bids for the digital TV licences were higher than they should have been, adding that this demonstrated the fierce competition among media companies here.

He said that while SCB would consider providing financing for licence winners who have strong content and cash flow, he believed that the high bids were an indication that providing digital TV services was likely to require higher investment costs than previously expected.

"They [the winners] will have additional investment costs for both content and production. Meanwhile, we are still unclear as to how the 24 commercial digital television channels will generate sufficient advertising revenue to cover all investments," he said.

The NBTC's broadcasting committee will certify the results within 15 days of the completion of the two-day auction.

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