World Star ordered to pay Bt72m fines
The broadcasting regulator yesterday ordered World Star TV (Thailand), the operator of the Thai TV subscription-based service, to pay Bt72 million in fines for violating its concession by subcontracting programme production since 1996.
The Public Relations Department sued World Star TV after finding that the company had allowed Nation Channel, MV TV and RS to lease slots on TTV 1, 2 and 3.
The PRD had granted the concession to World Star TV to provide the three subscription-based TV channels via multi-channel, multi-point distribution technology (MMDS, now known as broadband radio service or wireless cable), but required the company to broadcast its own content.
The legal case ran for more than 13 years until 2009 when the Supreme Administrative Court ordered World Star TV to pay daily fines and unpaid concession fees.
Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's broadcasting committee, said that as of December 31, the company owed Bt72.28 million.
"That is expected to rise if World Star TV does not pay the fines," Natee said.
Its subcontractors are not affected by World Star's obligation, he said.
Although MMDS has been discontinued for many years, the PRD, which controls the frequency, must declare the need to use it to the NBTC. It must also contribute the fines to the NBTC's Research and Development Fund because the MMDS frequency used to belong to the Post and Telegraph Department, which has been transformed into the Office the NBTC.
Meanwhile, Thakorn Tanthasit, secretary-general of the NBTC, said the board of the Research and Development Fund for Broadcasting and Telecommunications approved in principle the proposal by the NBTC to offer discount coupons to all 22 million households for use in buying a digital TV set or digital converter box. The subsidy is aimed at accelerating the transition from analog to digital television.
The value of the coupon will be determined by the starting bid in the auction for 24 licences for commercial digital terrestrial TV channels, which is expected to begin in July or August.
The subsidy scheme will be submitted at the NBTC's meeting tomorrow for approval.
The commission's broadcasting committee also approved the launch of the country's first digital radio broadcasting service during the "NBTC and ITU Seminar and Workshop on Digital Radio" from March 1-3 at the head office of MCOT. The workshop will provide essential information about digital radio service from experts at the International Telecommunication Union and Commercial Radio Australia.
MCOT, the Army, the PRD, 30 private radio operators in Greater Bangkok and carmakers will be invited to the event to help them prepare for the move to digital radio broadcasting.
"The trial digital radio broadcasting service will be run on March 2 from 9am-7pm," Natee added.