June 03, 2014 00:00 By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Broadcasting Committee yesterday approved the plan of the Army, the owner of TV Channel 5, to become the operator of a digital public TV channel.
Chairman Natee Sukolrat said the Army plans to migrate from analog TV to digital TV in four years under a 15-year digital public TV licence to be awarded it in 2017.
The Army proposed the transition plan to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) in March. Informative content will run at 40 per cent of programming this year, increasing to 50 per cent next year, 60 per cent in 2016 and 70 per cent in 2017.
It will offer three separate services – digital TV infrastructure, a digital TV network and public digital TV broadcasting.
The channel will be the model for the transformation of state run, analog TV stations – like NBT of the Public Relations Department and Thai PBS – to digital public TV stations.
The Broadcasting Committee has already approved Thai PBS’ plan to switch off its analog TV system in 1.8 years after the launch of its digital TV channel on May 25 or when its digital TV network covers 95 per cent of households nationwide.
According to the NBTC, there will be 12 digital public TV channels and under its rules, they can seek revenue from only airing 8 minutes per hour of corporate social responsibility spots. But only Channel 5 will be allowed to show 12 minutes of commercials per hour, like digital commercial TV channels.
The NBTC also plans to grant a digital public TV licence this year to the Parliament TV channel.
Awarded payTV licence to PSI
The Broadcasting Committee also approved the application of PSI Holdings, the biggest satellite TV network with some 10 million households, to change from a free-to-air satellite TV network provider to a pay-TV satellite network operator.
There are now 21 free-to-air satellite TV network operators and 11 pay-TV satellite network operators, including PSI.
The committee also awarded pay-TV licences to 40 free-to-air satellite TV channel operators.
Supreme Administration Court to hear World Cup 2014 case
Natee said the Supreme Administrative Court will begin hearing on June 10 the dispute between the NBTC and RS regarding the broadcasting rights to World Cup 2014, which kicks off on June 12.
The NBTC appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court against the lower court’s ruling suspending the NBTC’s “must have” rule in the case of World Cup soccer matches.
The Central Administrative Court did not shoot down the “must have” rule altogether, but said it could not be applied retroactively against RS’s plan to allow the showing of only 22 of the 64 World Cup matches on free TV, as RS International Broadcasting and Sport Management had secured the sole broadcast rights before the rule took effect.
The Broadcasting Committee wanted all Thais to be able to watch all 64 matches on free television.
RS secured the World Cup broadcasting rights on September 12, 2005, and the “must have” rule took effect in January last year.
Under the must-have rule, holders of broadcasting rights to seven sports spectaculars – the Southeast Asian Games, Asean Para Games, Asian Games, Asian Para Games, Olympic Games, Paralympics and the Fifa World Cup Final – must allow them to be aired on free-TV channels as well as on their own media platforms.
Last April, RS petitioned the Central Administrative Court to issue an injunction against the rule on the grounds that RS International had secured the World Cup broadcasting rights for Thailand before the rule was enforced.