Digital-TV players relieved at NBTC's decision to rejig
Potential bidders in the spectrum auction for 24 commercial digital terrestrial TV channels appear to be happier following the revised number of channels in each category, as the competition for some types of licence has now eased.Meanwhile, in order to cope with high competition in some TV categories such as children's channels, potential bidders are looking to form partnerships to reduce the number of bidders in the auction.
Following a decision by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Monday, the total number of commercial digital TV channels was left at 24, but the number of variety channels in high definition (HD) was increased from four to seven, and the number of news channels in standard definition (SD) from five to seven.
The number of variety SD channels was reduced from 10 to seven, and the number of children's channels from five to three.
RS chief operating officer Pornpan Techarungchaikul said the new numbers of HD and SD channels reflected potential high demand from TV broadcasters in some categories.
Although there would now be more variety HD channels and fewer SD channels, this might not affect competition in the auction of 14 channels in the variety category, she said.
RS plans to bid for a variety channel, whether it is in the HD or SD format, she added.
To prepare for the new media platform, RS invested in four satellite-TV channels, most which have already broken even. The company is the market leader with more than 30 per cent of advertising spending on satellite television.
Pornpan said her company was preparing Channel 8 for the new digital-TV channel.
She also said that given the increased number of news channels from five to seven, the NBTC could now deal with the high demand from both existing analogue TV operators and new players, particularly local newspapers that want to turn their business focus away from print to broadcasting media.
MCOT chief financial officer Jessada Promjart said the new proportion of HD and SD channels meant advertising budgets would become more fragmented, as there would be more choice for bidders for news and variety SD and HD channels.
Given this change, the company is revising its business plan for commercial digital terrestrial TV bidding, he said.
"We expect that licence reserve prices will be decreased from the original levels proposed by the study team hired by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission," the executive added.
After testing satellite-TV business via the Workpoint TV channel for the past two years, Panya Nirankul, chief executive officer of Workpoint Entertainment, said the company was ready to bid for two licences: for children's and variety HD or SD channels.
Last year, the company formed a joint venture with PSI Holding, the country's major manufacturer and distributor of satellite-TV dishes, to manage another free-to-air channel, expected to called "Channel 6." The joint venture, Free Size, will run the new channel, which will be aired via both the digital terrestrial and satellite-TV platforms.
Workpoint also plans to invest in eight new studios on a 3-rai (nearly half a hectare) plot adjacent to its existing eight studios. The development will accommodate further TV production once the NBTC grants 15-year digital-TV licences.
The CEO declined, however, to comment on how much the investment would cost.
With the company facing intense competition for the three available children's channels, Chalakorn Panyashom, executive vice president for television business and special events at Workpoint Entertainment, said it would work with other producers of kids' content that are also planning to join the bidding, in order to reduce the overall number of bidders in the spectrum auction.