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Digital TV firms press NBTC for funding to improve

Major content producers that recently obtained digital-TV licences yesterday pleaded for seed funds from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to be used for establishment of an improved ratings system.

They believe that new methods of audience research will create a level playing field for new players after the television-broadcasting industry, now worth Bt70 billion, has been dominated by five players for many decades.

High-profile executives and representatives of the 24 holders of commercial digital terrestrial TV licences and other leading production houses convened with NBTC commissioner Thawatchai Jittrapanun to brainstorm about a new audience-measurement system.

Adisak Limprungpatanakij, president of Nation Broadcasting Corporation, said that as a new player in digital free TV, it wanted to make sure that the rating system was ready for this new market segment, dominated up to now by five analog free-TV operators - Channel 3, TV5, Channel 7, Modernine TV and Channel 11.

Though the NBTC's broadcasting committee will govern media research firms like Nielsen, the new digital TV players are highly concerned that the measurements it provides may not serve their needs.

Pramote Chokesirikulchai, executive adviser at Bangkok Entertainment Company, the Channel 3 operator, urged seed funds from the broadcasting regulator to support an independent research company to develop and establish a new rating system to complement Nielsen's.

"The seed funds should be granted from the NBTC's Research and Development Fund after the broadcasting committee transfers some revenue from the licence fees to the fund committee," Pramote suggested.

Chitralada Henghyotmark, senior vice president for legal and regulatory issues at GMM Grammy, called for action on the matter as quickly as possible because digital terrestrial broadcasting will begin soon.

Adisak also expressed his concern: "It might hurt our business if TV rating measurement cannot reach audiences in the right time."

Thawatchai said adjusting the rules related to TV ratings might take time, and he suggested that all the new digital-TV players negotiate with Nielsen for better solutions.

In a previous interview, Sinthu Peatrarut, managing director for media client leadership at Nielsen (Thailand), said his company planned to increase its sample sizes from 1,800 homes to 2,200 in preparation for the new digital channels. It would also add another 1,000 homes for its independent survey to be in line with the NBTC signal-coverage road map.

Nielsen expects to deploy additional people meters three months after the digital TV channels take to the air, expecting to complete this by mid-2015.


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