Operators can now apply to test-run digital services along with analog
The national regulator has opened the way for free-TV operators to apply for permits to test-run terrestrial digital broadcasting services in parallel with their current airing of analog services.
Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, yesterday said the permits had been split into those for public TV operators - Channel 5, Channel 11 and Thai PBS - and those for commercial TV business, such as channels 3, 7 and 9.
The trial runs by channels 5 and 11 will be conducted on the spectrum allocated for digital public TV service, and will continue until they have to shut down their analog service. The NBTC will inform the channel operators of the time frame for switching off the analog system.
Thai PBS will be the first public TV operator to obtain a digital licence for public broadcasting. The NBTC panel will grant a high-definition channel licence to the operator in May.
Thai PBS is obliged to return all of its analog spectra to the NBTC within three years, after which the regulator will grant it a second public TV digital licence.
The watchdog will allocate the spectrum set aside for community digital TV channels for commercial TV operators to use in the trial.
Their trial will end once they can officially launch their digital TV channels, should they be successful in the auction and win commercial licences.
Permits for the trial by commercial operators can be renewed every six months.
The application fee for the trials by both public and commercial operators is Bt25,000, while the fee for spectrum use is Bt625,000 per six months.
The NBTC plans to launch a "beauty contest" to grant eight licences for public digital TV broadcasting in May or June, and to auction 24 commercial digital TV licences in August or September.
It will grant 12 community digital TV licences at the end of the year, or early next year.
The NBTC broadcasting committee yesterday also approved the granting to satellite operator Thaicom of a licence to provide broadcasting network service for cable- and satellite-TV operators.