NBTC issues licences to local TV operators
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) yesterday issued the first 632 licences to local cable and satellite TV operators.Of these, 331 were permanent licences for network providers and the rest one-year temporary licences to operate television channels.
This is considered the first attempt to regulate the Thai cable and satellite TV industry in 60 years.
Natee Sukhonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, said that if they did not violate any laws during the one-year term of their temporary licences, the 301 operators would obtain long-term licences to keep going for another 14 years.
About 400 licences both for network providers and TV channel operators are on the list to be issued later, Natee added.
The licensing process is expected to be complete by early March.
Unlicensed TV operators will face five years in jail or a Bt5-million fine or both.
Among newly licensed local cable and satellite TV operators, Nation Multimedia Group's subsidiaries obtained five licences to operate TV channels. These are Nation Channel, operated by NBC Next Vision; Kom Chad Luek TV by NBC Next Screen; Krungthep Turakij TV by Bangkok Business Broadcasting; Kid Zone by Nation Kid; and SEA Channel by NNN Next Frontier.
However, Nation Broadcasting Corp president Adisak Limprung-patanakij said the company was concerned that the costs of licence fees and mandated contributions to the NBTC's research and development fund would be high. Hence NBC along with members of the Satellite Television Association (Thailand) will negotiate with the NBTC to try to ease this situation.
Panuwat Tangsaksatit, president of the Cable TV Operator Associa-tion, said that after obtaining such licences, cable and satellite TV operators would likely increase advertising rates to offset the cost of licence fees and contributions to the R&D fund.
He added that licensed TV operators would find it easier to get bank loans and attract advertising.
Under the licence-based regime, satellite channels providing programmes related to political issues and will be tightly regulated against hate speech.
Those channels include Asia Update, DNN, Blue Sky Channel and ASTV.
Natee said programming on those channels could affect pubic opinion and possibly create political conflicts in society. The NBTC will work closely with consumer-rights and media-monitoring groups in this regard.