A MEDIA association yesterday expressed disappointment over the broadcasting regulator’s role in assisting troubled digital-TV players after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)admitted that it could not respond constructive
The NBTC came to that conclusion after holding a special meeting on the matter on Wednesday.
Kematat Paladesh, president of the Radio and Television Broadcasting Professional Federation, said two months of brainstorming to solve the protracted problems in the digital-TV business appeared to amount to nothing after the NBTC could not agree to the main requests made recently by a group of broadcasters through the NBTC panel assigned to solve such problems.
The troubled digital-TV players want the regulator to support them by delaying the third instalment of the upfront licence fee to relieve their tight financial straits.
However, the NBTC decided not to follow through with the request, citing the law. Under Section 42 of the Organisation to Assign Radio Frequencies and to Regulate Broadcasting and Telecommunications Services Act of 2010, all licence holders must pay the licence fee yearly at an appropriate rate for the type of licence in accordance with the Broadcasting Act.
On behalf of the president of Bangkok Media and Broadcasting, the operator of the PPTV digital TV station, Kematat said the result of the NBTC’s special meeting was unsatisfactory.
PPTV is among the seven major digital TV stations that last year sued the NBTC for damages at the Central Administrative Court, allegedly caused by the regulator’s negligence in marshalling the transition from analog to digital TV.
The other six stations were One, Thairath TV, GMM 25, Bright TV, Now 26 and Nation TV.
In preparation for the next hearing at the court, Kematat said his company was planning to discuss this matter with the other six broadcasters next week.
Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said recently that his administration would also submit the results of Wednesday’s meeting to the court.
NBTC member Supinya Klangnarong said she believed that those digital TV operators would ask the court to issue a temporary injunction to protect them from having to pay the third instalment of the upfront licence fee, whose deadline is May 24.
Supinya’s subcommittee overseeing consumer rights protection is also attempting to set ethical and social-responsibility standards by drafting a new rule to govern all holders of digital TV licences. The rule would serve as the terms and conditions of a TV broadcasting licence.
The move comes after TV Channel 3 allowed famous host Sorrayuth Suthassnachinda to go back on the air despite his conviction for bribery, which raised an uproar over media ethics.
However, representatives of digital-TV channels who participated in a meeting held yesterday by Supinya’s panel seemed to think differently, as they preferred a self- or co-regulated approach, instead of law enforcement.
“If they want to do that [self-regulation], they must submit a code of practices and guidelines to my panel by the end of next month for consideration of the NBTC’s broadcasting committee,” Supinya said.