Thai TV Co yesterday came out swinging at the broadcasting regulator, saying it would not allow the NBTC to cash in its bank guarantee and would not hand over Bt1.75 billion for upfront licence fees after receiving a notice of licence revocation.
"We did no wrong in refusing to pay the remaining instalments of the upfront licence fees and annual licence fee.
"It’s the full responsibility of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to create a digital terrestrial TV market completely safe and sound for new players," said media veteran Pantipa "Sister Tim" Sakulchai, president of Thai TV.
To protest against this administrative order, the company has petitioned the Central Administrative Court to issue a temporary injunction.
Pantipa claimed that the NBTC had failed to marshal the transition from analog to digital TV in line with the national master plan.
The regulator also broke some of its promises to the industry, such as creating public awareness about this transition and other issues related to channel numbering and TV rating measurement, she said. The public still remained in the dark about digital TV.
Thai TV Co decided last year to return its licences to run news channel Thai TV and another channel for children and families called Loca, which was later renamed MVTV Family, after refusing to pay the Bt288-million second instalment of its upfront licence fee as well as the annual fee.
Last week, Thai TV Co received written notice of the revocation of the licences, which had been suspended for 90 days pending payment. The notice also demanded full payment of the remaining five instalments of the upfront licence fees worth Bt1.63 billion plus value-added tax as well as the unpaid annual licence fees and a daily fine of Bt60,000 within 30 days. But if Thai TV failed to respond, the bank guarantor, Bangkok Bank, should assume this responsibility.
To protest against the NBTC’s decision, Suchat Chomkul, legal adviser for Thai TV, said his company had yesterday asked the Central Administrative Court to void the NBTC’s order and issue a temporary injunction on Monday because the company would not allow the commission to claim the bank guarantee.
Suchat said the court planned to hold its first hearing on the case on Tuesday.
Thai TV has been completely blacklisted from any broadcasting activities, but Pantipa still continues to produce and supply full TV programmes to the "44 TV Pool Movie Hits" satellite TV station under a revenue-sharing agreement. She acknowledged that her son’s company Thai TV Pool was now applying for a broadcasting licence to run a new free-to-air satellite TV channel.