Junta invokes Article 44 to help digital TV and mobile operators

Thailand’s mobile phone operators using the 900Mhz band and digital TV licensees have been granted a reprieve regarding their concession fees, thanks to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).


According to Royal Gazette website today, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as head of the NCPO, has invoked the sweeping powers, granted to him under Article 44 of the interim Constitution, to extend the concession fee payment schedule for mobile phone operators from 4 months to 10 months.


The relaxation in the timing of payments to be made to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will greatly ease the financial burden on the concession holders.


The move is also expected to help the operators participate in a fresh round of bidding for the 700Mhz and 2600Mhz licences, which will pave the way for 5G technology in Thailand.  


Digital TV operators, who bid high for the licences to beat off competition, have found themselves in deep financial trouble due to so-called ‘technological disruption’ as audiences migrated to smart phones and streaming services for their content. This has caused a significant drop in advertising revenues available from broadcast TV.


Digital TV operators now have 30 days to return the licensees tothe NBTC if they want to leave the business.  The licensees will be eligible to receive compensation from the NBTC, depending on how much of the concession fees they have already paid.Operators, who have not yet paid the last two concession fee instalments, will be exempted from paying if they want to quit the business. They can also ask for a refund of the fees already paid on a pro rata basis.


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