Licence fees to be waived for analog to digital simulcast

Corporate January 28, 2014 00:00

By Watchiranont Thongtep
The Nat

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The existing analog TV broadcasters that are moving to digital will be excused their annual licence and research-and-development fees when they simulcast their current analog programmes on their newly licensed digital platforms.

Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s broadcasting committee, said yesterday that analog TV operators that won digital channels in last month’s licence auction would have the right to carry their current programmes on both platforms. Those incumbent broadcasters are Channel 3, MCOT and Channel 7. BEC-Multimedia, which is owned by Bangkok Entertainment Company, the operator of Channel 3, won three digital licences – two for variety channels in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) and one for a children’s/family channel. 
Meanwhile, MCOT grabbed two licences, for an HD variety channel and a family channel. Bangkok Broadcasting and Television, the operator of Channel 7, got a licence for an HD variety channel.
During the simulcast period, these analog broadcasters must carry the same content on the digital platform. 
Natee said they would be able to simulcast their programmes without paying the commission of 2 per cent of gross income for the annual licence fee and another 2 per cent for the NBTC’s Research and Development Fund. 
However, they do have to pay the bid price they offered at the recent auction, and leasing fees to the operators of the digital TV networks like the other players. 
Natee explained that the simulcast was needed to help shorten the transition from analog to digital, and the content from those key analog TV broadcasters was very important to encourage audiences to migrate from the old system to the new one. He made these remarks yesterday at a ceremony to award channel numbers for the 24 new commercial digital licences won at the spectrum auction last month.
At the event, some broadcasters told The Nation they believed that the competition would become fierce after the debut of digital terrestrial TV in April. To cope with this challenge, they will offer premium content on their digital channels to bolster their audience base. 
Kematas Paladesh, president of Bangkok Media and Broadcasting, said its PPTV channel, which will be aired on the new digital terrestrial platform, was preparing renowned international TV programmes, including variety, game and reality shows, to spoil the Thai audience. The company has earmarked more than Bt2 billion to develop and produce content and to ensure quality production.
“PPTV will be ready for digital terrestrial TV service in April,” said Kematas, who was formerly vice president for marketing at MCOT’s Modernine TV. 
Vachara Vacharaphol, chief executive officer of Triple V Broadcast, an affiliate of Thai Rath newspaper, said his company was prepared to spend between Bt700 million and Bt800 million for TV production and would partner with leading content providers like JSL Global Media, Kantana Group, Polyplus and TV Thunder to produce variety and talk shows.
Vachara believes that with its strong team and highly experienced content partners, Thai Rath TV will bring new experiences to the audience as well as good ratings.