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Vouchers expected to give digital TV a big boost

Nielsen (Thailand) and the Digital TV Club believe that helping households acquire terrestrial digital TV devices by giving them vouchers will promote sustainable growth of terrestrial digital TV and boost the audience ratings of digital operators.

Suphab Kleekachai, chief adviser to the ThaiTV channel, said last week on behalf of the president of the Digital TV Club he agreed with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's decision to give away Bt690-vouchers to over 22 million households to purchase either a digital TV set-top box or digital television set by the middle of September.

"However, the NBTC should kick off the distribution as quickly as possible. It would be great if the broadcasting regulator started distributing the Bt690 coupons by August," he said.

Suphab commented on this issue after a meeting with the largest media research firm last week at the MCOT head office.

Adisak Limprungpatanakij, president of Nation Broadcasting Corporation, said the digital terrestrial TV platform must be the national backbone of TV broadcasting.

"No more delay for the country's key transformation to the digital TV era," he said.

The NBTC had told the industry that the free vouchers were supposed to be delivered to households in May, he said.

This fast process would help people access TV programmes via the digital terrestrial TV platform while the national TV audience rating meter would measure audience satisfaction for each digital TV show, he said.

Nielsen (Thailand), the present TV audience rating meter, seems to agree with the NBTC's decision.

Managing director Sinthu Peatrarut said the decision would create more opportunities for new players in the digital terrestrial TV business.

"If audiences mostly watch digital TV programmes only via the terrestrial digital TV platform, their attention will focus only on digital terrestrial TV channels. This would help boost TV ratings for digital TV channels," he said.

After recently adding 200 TV receptors on top of the existing 1,800 survey panels to correspond with the arrival of the 24 digital TV channels, the company believes that by next quarter, TV ratings will be available for its new clients.

To cover the expected increase in digital TV set-top boxes, sample sizes would be expanded to 2,200 households or about 7,700 individuals by the second quarter of next year from 2,000 households or about 7,000 individuals by this year.

Most digital terrestrial TV operators have already become Nielsen's subscribers under a one- or two-year contract.

Suphab said his company pays about Bt100,000 a month to subscribe to information on its TV audience ratings. Other clients do the same.

"But if a client company wants to know more information about TV ratings across the board, it must be charged an extra fee, which is quite expensive," he said.

The Digital TV Club is seeking a two-year subsidy from the NBTC to help defray this extra cost.


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