Junta pressed to raise digital TV vouchers to Bt1,000

Economy August 06, 2014 01:00

By Watchiranont Thongtep,

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Broadcasting professionals, digital terrestrial TV stations, and media and advertising associations are making a last-ditch pitch to the junta to persuade it to raise the value of digital TV vouchers to Bt1,000 instead of Bt690 and to make public relation

“If they are worth only Bt690, too few households will move to the terrestrial-based digital TV platform, creating difficulties for broadcasters. If they are worth Bt1,000, the audience will be able to buy a complete set of digital TV receiver, set-top box and active antenna,” an executive from BEC-Multimedia, the operator of terrestrial-based digital Channel 3HD, 3SD and 3Family, said yesterday. 
The vouchers will soon be mailed to 22 million households. 
Jamnan Siritan Nunbhakdi, president of the Radio-Television Broadcasting Professional Federation, and representatives from the industry said Bt690 was not enough.
She said her working team would meet to submit an open letter explaining their reasoning to the junta this week. 
Kematat Paladesh, president of Bangkok Media Broadcasting, the operator of the PPTV HD channel, said campaigns to raise public awareness of digital TV must be a key agenda item for the country. 
Executives from One HD, GMM Channel, True4U, Thairath TV, RS Channel 8, Channel 7 HD, Channel 3HD, 3SD, 3Family and PPTV HD might take actions such as withholding licence fees and digital-network leasing fees.
However, the regulator insisted that it would not change its plan to give away Bt690 vouchers. 
Takorn Tantasit, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, said the resolution passed by the NBTC last week could not be changed. 
“But a change will be acceptable if the junta agrees with the federation’s request. We would respect that decision,” he said. 
The NBTC submitted the voucher plan to the junta last week but it has not made a decision on it yet, he said. 
The NBTC is considering the basic qualifications of dealers eligible to accept the vouchers ranging from minimum registered capital and deposit/guarantee to minimum warranty period.
For the minimum registered capital requirement, the NBTC has proposed four scenarios to select eligible dealers from the 41 that applied. 
The first scenario has no minimum for registered capital, so all 41 dealers would be eligible. The second one with a minimum of Bt50 million would leave 26 dealers qualified. At Bt100 million, only 20 dealers would be eligible and at Bt200 million just 14 companies.
Dealers in the scheme must deposit 5 per cent of expected sales of digital TV set-top boxes and must set up at least two service centres and five distribution centres in each province as well as a 24-hour call centre.
The product warranty must be at least two years.