Watchdog to rule on TrueVisions' advertising arrangement with MCOT today
The Broadcasting Committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will today rule on the legitimacy of an amendment to TrueVisions' concession contract with MCOT under which the former has sold television commercials amounting to six minutes per hour of broadcasting via its pay-TV channels since 2009.Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the Broadcasting Committee, said last week that his panel would make a decision on this issue at its weekly board meeting today, as probes by the NBTC's legal subcommittee and concession-examination subcommittee were complete. If the committee concludes that the revised concession contract is unlawful, it will order TrueVisions to stop airing advertising immediately.
An NBTC source said that the two subcommittees concluded that the contract amendment between MCOT and TrueVisions appeared not to violate related NBTC law, and that the amendment is a matter between TrueVisions and MCOT regarding the latter's concession.
The issue arose in 2011 after Pramut Sutabutr filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Court against the now defunct National Telecommunications Commission, which had neglected to take any action after he lodged a petition relating to the contract amendment with the watchdog. Pramut is a former director of the Mass Communication Organisation of Thailand, which by the time of his lawsuit had been listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand as MCOT Plc.
Under this amendment, MCOT has allowed TrueVisions to sell airtime for six minutes of TV commercials per hour, after originally allowing no commercials at all. TrueVisions must pay 6.5 per cent of its annual income from the advertising to the state media enterprise in return. This payment is on top of a concession fee, which amounts to about 6.5 per cent of annual revenue from subscription fees. TrueVisions' contract with MCOT will expire in 2019.
TrueVisions' service revenue last year grew by a strong 8.2 per cent year-on-year to Bt10.5 billion, driven mainly by solid growth in advertising and music entertainment revenue.
Apart from this issue, the broadcasting panel is also expected to approve definitions of commercial digital terrestrial TV channels for the news and children's categories, Natee added.
Under the definition of a news channel, news and information programmes must account for 70 per cent of total airtime, while entertainment content can account for the rest. If the licence holder maintains this proportion, it will receive a cut in its annual licence fee of 50 per cent, as public digital TV operators do. For children's channels, entertainment programmes must account for 75 per cent of total airtime, while the remainder can comprise information and documentary programmes. Violence, nudity and sexual content are prohibited.