The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put 33 satellite TV channels on its watch list for airing exaggerated commercials.
Eight of the stations were among 301 cable and satellite TV operators that obtained licences from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) last week. They are BOX Film, BaoJai Channel, OHO Channel, KM Channel, Hit Station, Hit Square, 40-50 Channel and Monkol Channel.
The other 25 listed channels are MV Hi, MV Porjai, Nice Channel, MV Grand, MV Gift, MV MV5, MV OK TV, Chokdee TV, MV Mystery, MV TV5, Central Channel, DooDee TV, MV Variety, BKK TV, Zbb Channel, P&P, Health Plus, Pleonjai Channel, MV Share, Service 23, TV Pool, True Vision, My TV, Shop&Show and K Station.
Supinya Klangnarong, an NBTC member and chairwoman of its consumer rights protection committee, said yesterday that the eight operators must immediately comply with the Food Act and Drug Act by stopping broadcasts of such illegal advertising.
Some TV operators on the watch list might be among the 341 TV channels that are waiting for operating licences, while some might want to remain unlicensed, in which case they should face five years in jail or a Bt5-million fine or both, she said.
The NBTC seems to have foreseen such problems as of last week, its broadcasting committee approved a regulation overseeing licensed cable/satellite TV operators that broadcast illegal content and false advertisements.
Under this regulation, if the court rules against such an operator, its licence will be revoked by the NBTC. During the trial, the broadcasting regulator has the right to fine or take administrative action against the offenders to stop them showing such content.
Cable/satellite operators will also face punishment under the food and drug laws for such advertising.
Srinuan Korrakochakorn, deputy secretary-general of the FDA, said the agency was amending food and drug regulations as the punishment under the Food Act was considerably weak at Bt5,000 per violation.
“Now the FDA is proposing a Bt500,000 fine and imprisonment for exaggerated commercials,” he said.
This amendment is also an attempt to regulate commercials and programmes on local TV channels, particularly cable and satellite channels, which are largely not under control. The amendment is in the final stage of public hearings with relevant audiences but it is not completed yet as there are some parties still opposing the draft.
Srinuan said that last year, the FDA recorded fines of Bt20 million from various lawbreakers in the print and cable/satellite TV businesses.
According to the NBTC, there are more than 1,000 cable/satellite TV operators. The commission has said it has received some complaints about false advertising, particularly for pharmaceutical products.