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Pay TV operators may block Channel 3 to comply with NBTC rules

Channel 3's analog broadcasts might be blacked out on pay TV starting on Sunday, the broadcasting regulator said yesterday.

On February 3, the broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission announced that Channel 3 would not be classified as free TV as defined by the commission after 30 days of digital television. That deadline is Sunday.

This is also related to the "must carry" rules of the NBTC that require all TV networks to air the 24 commercial and 12 public-service digital channels.

Bangkok Entertainment Co, the operator of Channel 3, immediately reacted yesterday, saying all viewers nationwide could still watch its programmes through a number of set-ups including pay TV after Sunday.

It said in its statement that it would broadcast its analog free TV through satellite networks. All networks can relay its signal directly.

All TV platforms carry Channel 3, since it is one of the most popular. As a free-TV channel, Channel 3 shows 12 minutes of commercials per hour.

Natee Sukolrat, chairman of the broadcasting committee, said Channel 3 had to ask for a new licence for a pay TV service if it wanted to air on pay TV with not more than six minutes of commercials per hour.

His comment is in line with the broadcasting committee's resolution yesterday approving a reply to K Master, a satellite TV subsidiary of RS, which had asked about issues regarding Channel 3.

Without pay TV, mainly TrueVisions and CTH, about 80 per cent of the 25 million households nationwide can watch Channel 3 after Sunday.

According to a media agency, advertising budget planning will not be affected much since most satellite viewers are customers of free-to-air platforms including PSI Holdings Co. All free-to-air platforms can continue broadcasting Channel 3 with 12 minutes of commercials.

However, all free-to-air platforms are expected to ask to switch to a pay-TV licence soon in order to join the NBTC's voucher-giveaway campaign for buying digital TVs and set-top boxes.

A TrueVisions source said it might drop Channel 3 analog programmes from its platform to respect the NBTC's regulation.


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