February 04, 2014 00:00
By Watchiranont Thongtep
'No need' in digital era, MCOT and PRD told
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has ordered MCOT and the Public Relations Department (PRD) to return some of their radio frequencies because they will have no need for them once digital terrestrial television arrives.
The NBTC’s broadcasting committee said yesterday that it had found that a concession contract between MCOT and International Engineering (IEC) for use of UHF (ultra-high frequency) Channel 58 for mobile TV service was illegal as it strayed from its original plan, constituting misuse.
“After these findings from the NBTC’s investigation, we have ordered MCOT to stop the plan to provide mobile TV service and return the frequency to the NBTC within five years,” committee chairman Natee Sukonrat said.
UHF Channel 58, which ranges from 766 to 774 megahertz, was initially granted by the Post and Telegraph Department to MCOT to help the state-run TV broadcaster to improve its analog signal, particularly in outskirts of Bangkok. But last year MCOT decided to use this bandwidth for a subscription-based digital-TV service under a DVB-T/H system through a management contract with IEC, a leading telecommunications company. DVB-T/H stands for digital video broadcast-terrestrial for handheld or mobile TV service. The deal was sealed by former MCOT president Thanawat Wansom.
The broadcasting committee also ordered that MCOT return its 2,500-2,690MHz frequency, which has been used for multi-channel, multi-point distribution service (MMDS) for TrueVisions’ subscription-based TV, after their concession contract comes to an end next September.
The committee will also look further into the revision of some details in the concession contract between MCOT and TrueVisions made on October 8, 2009. The key detail was that TrueVisions was allowed to seek advertising revenue via its pay-TV channels, on top of subscription fees.
“We want to make sure this revision complied with the broadcasting law,” Natee said.
The broadcasting committee also rejected MCOT’s proposal for permission to import communications equipment to be use in a test run for a subscription-based TV service on its MMDS frequency. Natee explained that this bandwidth would no longer be used for broadcasting but was already classified for telecommunication according to the Frequency Master Plan 2012.
The committee also agreed to order the PRD to return its MMDS frequency with immediate effect. This frequency was used for a subscription-based TV service under a concession between the PRD and World Star TV (Thailand), the operator of a subscription-based service. The contract expired on September 30, 2007.
Last year, the broadcasting regulator ordered World Star TV (Thailand) to pay Bt72 million in fines for violating its concession by subcontracting programme production since 1996.