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Digital TV shows, ads likely this month

Besides providing programmes, 24 digital TV broadcasters are |likely to be allowed to telecast advertisements during the trial period, according the head of the broadcasting committee at the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

"In my personal opinion, TV commercials should be broadcast along with TV programme as a part of the trial run. However, my committee needs a confirmation on this issue from the NBTC's sub-committee on legal affairs before giving them a green light or not," Natee Sukonrat, chair of the NBTC broadcasting panel, told The Nation last week.

Natee said that the legal advisers expected to provide the answer to the committee within a week.

The three-phase trial run of digital terrestrial TV broadcasts by 24 commercial operators will start this month. In the first phase, the operators must broadcast their TV programmes in some airtime slots via terrestrial TV signals.

The second phase is due to |begin next month. Operators |must provide content both via terrestrial and by satellite TV platforms in order to test the NBTC's "must carry" rule. Under this rule, all cable and satellite TV platform operators must carry 24 digital terrestrial TV channels and three analog TV operators - Channel 5, Channel 11 and Thai PBS - on their platforms.

Three-month trial run

In the last phase in May, all digital TV operators must ready to provide full programmes in accordance with the TV programming and scheduling regulation.

"If those TV operators complete all process during three-month trial run, the NBTC will then award them official licences, in June," Natee said.

Asked about discount coupons that the commission plans to give to 22 million households to help people purchase digital TV set-top boxes, Natee said that in his opinion the coupons should be distributed in areas where the digital terrestrial TV broadcasting service reaches.

To ensure that the discount coupon distribution is clean and transparent, Natee presented his idea that there should be four separate key parties in this process - a publisher of coupons, a coupon distributor, authorised retailers and banks.

His idea was that the number |of households would be based on the census data held by the Interior Ministry while Thailand Post |would possibly be the coupon |distributors.

To encourage people to purchase digital TV receivers and help speed up the transition to a digital era, the value of discount coupons is tipped to be hike to cover the expense of a set-top box and antenna.

"Retailers are also important for this process. We should open a registration for authorising retailers. Those retailers may be convenience stores, discount stores, traditional traders and cable/satellite TV dealers," Natee explained.

Once authorised retailers collect coupons from customers, they must bring them to authorised banks for refund.

Natee said he would present his ideas to the committee. Approval is expected to be received by early April.


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