Public broadcasters demand access to HD channels in digital TV era
Broadcasters' demand for high-definition television channels is already outstripping availability as set out by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, especially for public-service providers, who as it stands have been left out of the digital HD world.
The NBTC has established three main categories for 48 digital terrestrial television channels - commercial, public, and community-based service. The commission has reserved 12 standard-definition (SD) channels each for public service and community-based purposes. Of the remaining 24 commercial channels, only four are HD.
However, the public TV broadcasters - the Royal Army's TV5, MCOT's Modernine TV, the Public Relations Department's Channel 11 and Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) - have informed the commission that they also want permits for HD services, Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the broadcasting committee, said yesterday.
Unfortunately, because of spectrum limitations, the bandwidth for the 12 SD channels allocated for public service is only able to support three HD channels.
Natee, who is also chairman of the subcommittee overseeing the transition from analog to digital terrestrial TV, said the sub-panel would seek an appropriate solution for these requirements once the technical trial run of digital broadcasting is complete.
This technical test will be jointly conducted by TV5, Modernine TV and Channel 11 this month. Thai PBS will undertake a similar test later. Natee said a revision to make HD channels available for public service broadcasters should be done immediately after his subcommittee gets enough data from the technical tests.
Apart from public TV operators, commercial broadcasters such as BEC's TV3 and BBTV Channel 7 are also expressing interest in HD service, saying that the four channels set by the NBTC won't be enough to serve viewers' demand.
Natee said the NBTC would also reconsider the provision of HD and SD channels for commercial operators before finalising the price of operating licences by end of March.