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Auction for 24 digital TV channels rakes in Bt50 bn

Twenty of the 29 companies competing for 24 licences for commercial digital terrestrial TV channels have been successful, bidding more than Bt50 billion in the first ever spectrum auction.

The two-day auction, organised by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), ended yesterday.

During the auction, seven variety channels in high definition (HD) generated Bt23.7 billion in bids; while seven variety channels in standard definition (SD) drew Bt15.9 billion; seven news channels in SD added Bt9.24 billion; and three children and family channels in SD provided Bt1.97 billion.

Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting panel, said his committee would reserve Bt15.9 billion for subsidy coupons distributed to 22 million households in the Kingdom to support the transition from analog to the digital terrestrial TV era. The rest would be handed over to the NBTC’s Reserch and Development Fund, which will be used for TV content development for local broadcasters and public interests.

Natee said this transition would be the biggest revolution in the country's media landscape since the birth of Thai broadcasting 58 years ago.

"People will get more choices, more quality in their TV programmes and better-quality pictures and sound because the digital technology is superior to the current analog TV," he said.

Digital TV will also open doors for new players and content providers to own and operate TV channels in a system monopolised by Channel 3, TV5, Channel 7, Modernine TV, NBT and Thai PBS.

Nation Multimedia Group is among new players in the digital TV era. During the two-day auction, NMG clinched two licences to operate an SD variety channel and a news channel.

NMG chairman Suthichai Yoon said getting into the digital-TV business would be a key milestone to sustain his media empire in the future. Apart from digital TV, NMG has three other key pillars - print media, "new media" and Nation University.

The company had prepared its staff, facilities and production for this expected change for many years.


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