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Fund to consider budget for vouchers for set-top boxes

The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research and Development Fund for the Public Interest will consider on May 20 whether to grant a Bt900-million budget to the Broadcasting Committee for giving away vouchers to households to buy a terrestrial digital TV set-top box.

Secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said recently that the committee had requested Bt900 million, of which Bt300 million would be used to hire the Government Lottery Office to print about 25 million vouchers and Bt300 million to hire Thailand Post Co to mail the vouchers to households.

The remaining Bt300 million would be used to develop IT systems to facilitate voucher distribution, including a system to register suppliers of the set-top boxes and retailers eligible to join the voucher scheme.

The committee also needs to install an information-technology system to keep up to date on the voucher distribution and the redemption of the coupons by retailers.

The fund wants to see the committee giving away the vouchers in July.

Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the Broadcasting Committee, has said that after the end of this month the committee might take three more months to finish installing all the required IT systems. This means it might not be able to start the voucher distribution in July as intended by the committee.

The Broadcasting Committee has proposed Bt1,000 as the value of the vouchers. Last week the fund considered this proposal but declined to give its approval after consumer groups questioned whether the value was too high.

The fund then assigned a committee to study the values before submitting them for its consideration on May 27, when it will make a final decision on the value.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission plans to give vouchers to 11 million households this year, or about half of the households that own television sets.

They have four purchase options - a digital set-top box plus compatible antenna, cable set-top box that can also receive terrestrial digital broadcasts, satellite TV set-top box with the same compatibility or a TV set with a built-in digital receiver.


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