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Higher up-front payments

The total up-front payment by the successful bidders in the two-day auction of 24 commercial terrestrial digital TV licences was higher than for the auction of third-generation telecom licences in October last year.

The TV licence auction, which ended yesterday, saw total up-front payment by 20 winning bidders of Bt50.862 billion. The available spectrum in the auction ranged from 510 to 790 megahertz.

The auction for the 2.1-gigahertz telecom spectrum saw the three highest bidders paying a combined final price of Bt41.625 billion.

All of the up-front payments for the 2.1GHz licences were transferred to the state, while those for the digital TV licences will be divided between the reserve price and the excess paid over that figure by the winning bidders. The reserve-price portion will fund the vouchers to be given away to all households to buy digital set-top boxes or digital-compatible TVs, while the excess will be passed to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's fund for developing the broadcasting industry.

NBTC broadcasting committee chairman Natee Sukonrat said the two up-front payment totals, from the 2.1GHz auction and digital TV licence auction, should not be compared. He noted that the telecom sector had an annual market value of Bt600 billion, while that of broadcasting business was only around Bt100 billion a year.

He believes the winners of the digital TV licence auction will be able to bear these costs all right. They can pay off the reserve price in instalments over four years and the excess over six years.


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