‘TV licensing regime change’ may spark exit

Corporate January 15, 2016 01:00

By Watchiranont Thongtep

The N

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A leading player in terrestrial-based digital television has expressed concerns over the possibility of an exit from the current licence-based system, which he fears could lead to more problems in the industry.



 

"A change in policy and regulations related to broadcasting could have either positive or negative impacts for all involved. So the policymakers or regulators should be cautious about making any changes in key regulations to make sure that law enforcement remains consistent," RS chief executive officer Surachai Chetchotisak said yesterday.

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommu-nications Commission, has called a meeting of all 24 holders of digital-TV licences next Tuesday to hear their complaints and ideas, including the desire of some operators to exit from the licence-based regime.

He said this meeting aimed to seek remedies for troubled broadcasters including Thai TV Co, which has said it wants to leave the digital-TV business.

Surachai said the NBTC should support the industry’s organic growth even though the TV-licence auction in late 2013 had liberalised the more-than-50-year-old industry, expanding it from only six players into a new market for 24 digital-TV broadcasters, including Channel 8 run by RS.

"In a free market, there must be both winners and losers. To win in this game, a good player must be well prepared with strong content strategy and understanding its audience’s needs well," the CEO said.

Surapol Peeraopongpipat Pera-pongpipath, director for marketing and sales at GMM One Digital TV, operator of the One digital channel, said he wanted to wait and see how the NBTC handles this challenging matter. "I personally believe that the growth in channels from six incumbents to 24 players appears to have made it difficult for the new TV broadcasters to build their audience bases while the same audiences are still familiar with the incumbents. So we need more support from the broadcasting regulator," he said.

The idea of modifying the current licence-based regime app-ears to differ from the views of Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC’s broadcasting committee. He believes that the birth of digital terrestrial TV opened more doors for both old and new players. In a free market, there might be gainers and losers.

"However, mergers and acquisitions might be an answer for those troubled broadcasters under the current licence-based regime," he said.

After a merger or acquisition, the corporate entity must remain unchanged and in accordance with Thai business regulations. This means the company must be wholly owned by Thai shareholders.

Under this law, foreign investors are permitted to hold a maximum of 25 per cent of the company. A management reshuffle is allowed in accordance with the change of shareholders.