Broadcasters eye ThaiPBS as digital terrestrial TV provider
Public TV broadcasters are eyeing Thai Public Broadcasting Service as their single network provider for digital terrestrial television, since this could minimise their network leasing costs and help attract new digital TV players to drive market growth, Sura Gaintanasilp, executive vice president of MCOT, said last week.
Mongkol Leelatham, deputy director general of ThaiPBS, said the studio was ready to be the network and infrastructure provider for digital TV channels as 35 of its 40 broadcasting towers were already equipped with digital technology, covering almost 80 per cent of all service areas in the first year.
Despite being a public organisation, ThaiPBS could employ its facilities to support other digital terrestrial TV operators, even commercial broadcasters, with affordable network leases. But, such a service was intended for non-commercial purposes.
Although the Amy's TV5, MCOT's Modernine TV, the Public Relation Department's NBT and ThaiPBS have their own network and infrastructure, they cannot jointly form a formal organisation or joint venture to take care of this matter, due to various legal limitations.
TV5 has 40 broadcasting sites, BBTV Channel 7 has 37 sites and MCOT has 35 towers for Modernine TV and BEC's Thai TV3. NBT has 50 transmission sites and ThaiPBS has 40.
Sura said most of the public TV towers were analogue.
"So, the move to digital terrestrial TV technology requires a large investment. This is also the result of high network rental rates, which new digital TV players will be charged.
During the six-month trial of digital terrestrial broadcasting from December-July, public TV operators would work closely with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to test the possibility of using a single digital TV network in line with their own existing facilities.
Last week, TOT Plc allowed the Army, MCOT and ThaiPBS to transmit digital TV through more than 100,000 of TOT's radio relay sites as gap fillers in areas unreachable by main towers, particularly remote and indoor areas.
TOT's radio relay sites would help infrastructure and network providers save costs and investment for new gap fillers.
Besides being assigned 48 main transmission towers, NBTC also plans to have 114 gap fillers to help increase coverage.
"With ThaiPBS's main transmission towers, TOT's relay sites and our existing facilities, public TV broadcasters hope that network leasing fees can get closer to or lower than running costs at satellite-TV channels now," Sura added.