Spring News budgets Bt1 bn to win licence for digital -TV news channel
Satellite-TV operator Spring News Corp has earmarked Bt800 million to Bt1 billion in a bid to win a commercial digital terrestrial-TV licence for a news channel in the broadcasting regulator's planned spectrum auction.
President Suthichai Bunnag said yesterday that the company was interested in running one of the new digital channels. It has been operating the Spring News satellite-TV channel for three years, and therefore feels it is ready to enter the new media platform.The investment will be funded by the firm's Market for Alternative Investment-listed parent company, Solution Corner 1998.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission plans to hold a spectrum auction for 24 commercial digital TV channels, comprising seven variety channels in high-definition (HD) service and another seven in standard definition (SD), seven news channels and three children's channels.
Although the NBTC has decided to increase the number of news channels available from the originally planned five following a proposal by a study team hired by the regulator, the level of competition in the category remains unclear due to the absence of details on the reserve price for a licence and the network leasing fee, Suthichai said.
To cope with this uncertainty, he said his company was spreading the risk under two scenarios.
The first is that if the overall investment cost - covering annual licence fee, final reserve bid price and network leasing fee - for securing a commercial licence to run a news channel are realistic, the company will take part in the bidding alone. However, if the costs are too high, the company might be a news content provider for one or more of the companies that win a licence.
"We are in discussions with a couple of major companies about this. Spring News will produce news programmes for partners that can grab a licence, whether for news or variety SD/HD," he added. Meanwhile, in order to strengthen its news production, Spring News is revamping its news programmes, effective this coming Monday.
The move is being overseen by lecturer and veteran news and documentary producer, Somkiat Onwimon. A source at a leading media agency believes the appointment of Somkiat as executive vice president at Spring News TV channel could increase local advertisers' confidence in buying time via the station after the revamp.