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Satellite TV equipment industry seeks cut in licence fees

Leading local satellite-TV-system manufacturers and distributors have called for a reduction in the licence fee collected by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), saying they are also a key part of supporting and carrying quality content to viewers.

Niran Tangpiroontham, managing director of Infosat and president of the Satellite Dish Club, said that in addition to broadcasters, network providers such as equipment manufacturers and distributors should be granted a reduction in annual licence fees as their business was part of the supply chain of the broadcasting industry.

Manufacturers invest in developing over-the-air technology for satellite TV receivers to prevent blank screens while passing signals of copyrighted content through their networks, hence those companies should also receive such a privilege, he said.

He made his request to the NBTC during a public hearing on a draft regulation on licence-fee reduction and exemption for cable/satellite and terrestrial TV broadcasting services. Surprisingly, only a few TV operators appeared at the event.

Napasak Kotwiboon, managing director of PSI Holding, the country's largest satellite-dish trader, manufacturer and distributor, said it had its own TV channel, called "Saradee", featuring mainly documentary and educational programmes via its network. The NBTC should add satellite TV network providers that operate their own channels to the list of those to be granted licence-fee reductions under this draft regulation.

According to the NBTC, satellite TV network providers must pay 2 per cent of annual gross income as a licence fee and another 2 per cent towards the commission's research and development fund.

"I personally suggest that a network provider with its own TV channel should get a 15-per-cent discount on the normal annual licence fee if it is committed to delivering informative and education-oriented programmes in more than 50 per cent of its time slots," Napasak said.

That reduction rate is similar to a privilege granted to commercial TV broadcasters that receive a licence for providing public services, he added.

Under the draft regulation on licence fee reduction and exemption, public-service digital terrestrial TV broadcasters would have their fee cut by half if they are able to utilise more than 50 per cent of their airtime for news, information and edutainment programmes. The fees for community-based services will be waived for those making a similar commitment.

However, Supinya Klangnarong, an NBTC commissioner, said it was quite difficult to include licence-fee reductions for network providers in the regulations but the watchdog would look at the possibility of helping such business operators within the law.

Supinya explained that the fee reductions and exemptions aimed to promote and support quality content from local producers and broadcasters, and was not meant to benefit network providers or facilitators.


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