The Nation


Digital TV

Digital auction sparks fierce bidding

MAJOR MEDIA and entertain?ment firms yesterday offered more than double the starting price of Bt1.51 billion to clinch 14 commer?cial digital terrestrial TV channels at the country's first auction of its kind.

The NBTC's auction of two TV categories raised a total of Bt39.65 billion, while the competition for seven licences of standard-defini?tion (SD) variety channels was heated from beginning to end.

Compared with the starting price that the regulator had set for the SD vari?ety channels, on average, the final bid surged about sixfold. For high-definition (HD) variety channels, the final bids were 124 per cent over the starting price on average.

On the first day of the auction, the seven HD licences generated Bt23.7 billion while the seven SD licences contributed Bt15.95 bil?lion. With a starting price of Bt380 million in the SD category, 16 com?panies competed for the seven licences. Thai Broadcasting ended up with the highest bid of Bt2.355 billion.

Nation Group's Bangkok Business Broadcasting was also among the winners with a final bid of Bt2.2 billion.

The other five winners were True DTT with Bt2.315 billion; GMM SD Digital TV with Bt2.29 billion; BEC-Multimedia with Bt2.275 bil?lion; RS Television with Bt2.265 billion; and Mono Broadcast with Bt2.250 billion.

Nine compa?nies contended for the seven HD variety licences.

BEC-Multimedia, a subsidiary of the TV Channel 3 operator, was the first winner with a bid ofBt3.53 billion. It was fol?lowed by Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth's Bangkok Media and Broadcasting (Bt3.46 billion); Bangkok Broadcasting and Television, the Channel 7 operator (Bt3.37 billion); Triple V Broadcast, a sub?sidiary of the Thai Rath newspaper publisher (Bt3.36 billion); MCOT (Bt3.34 billion); and Amarin Television and GMM as co-winners (Bt3.32 bil?lion each).

PM Group and Thai Broadcasting failed to clinch a licence at the last minute. PM Group is owned by coffee and shipping tycoon Prayudh Mahagitsiri, whose family was ranked by Forbes magazine as the country's 16th-richest. Thai Broadcasting is a sub?sidiary of Workpoint Entertainment.

The proceeds from the auction will be divided into two parts. The first part will be collected and based on the combined reserve prices from each licence, totalling Bt15.9 billion. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will spend part of that for discount vouchers coupons for 22 million households in an attempt to short?en the transition from analog to digital. Prasert Apipunyamember, a member of the so-called super?board monitoring the NBTC's per?formance, said the proceeds from the auction would help boost the economy next year after the com?mission submits the funds to the government.

After the completion of the two-day auction, the NBTC's broad?casting committee will certify the results within 15 days, and the post?ing of the auction winners will mark the end of the process.

Analysts at Kiatnakin Securities noted that the prices of listed media companies' stocks fell even if they won a licence at the auction yester?day, but this was due to the current political chaos that has been hit?ting the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Therefore this movement did not reflect the real picture of the digital TV business.

BEC World shares closed at Bt51, down 1.45 per cent from Wednesday, while MCOT dropped by 0.86 per cent to Bt28.75. GMM Grammy stocks dropped by 1.04 per cent to Bt19.

The SET Index yesterday dropped 23.99 points to 1,308.46.

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