11 July 2024

Operators of seven struggling digital TV channel today returned their licenses to the broadcast regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), bringing the number of digital TV channels still operating in Thailand down from 22 to just 15.

Letters expressing intent to withdraw from the terrestrial digital TV business were submitted to the NBTC by five operators,namely Bright TV, MCOT, News Network Corporation, Voice TV, Nation Multi-media Group and BEC World.

The channels that will go off the air in August are Bright TV 20, Channel 14 MCOT Family, Spring News 19, Voice TV 21, Springs 26, Channel 28 SD and Channel 13 Family.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tanthasith said today that the operators, which returned the licenses, must submit to the NBTC their financial performance reports for the whole 2018 fiscal year and for January 1st – April 11th of this year within 60 days.

He added that the operators have to inform their audiences 30-45 days prior to going off the air.

Regarding compensation to be paid to the operators, Takornestimated the total amount to be about 38 billion baht, which the NBTC expects to derive from the auction of the 700 MHz spectrum, which is expected to raise about 80 billion baht.

The NBTC secretary-general also reminded the operators of their obligation to compensate employees laid off due to the channel closures, adding that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed concern about this matter.

As for the three mobile phone operators, namely True Corporation, DTAC and AIS, Takorn said they had submitted their letters of intent on May 7th to accept the option to extend their license fee instalment payments on the condition that they take part in the May 14th auction of 700 KHz spectrum.

True and AIS have set a condition in their letters of intent that they reserve the right to pull out of the auction if the reserve bidprice is too high, while DTAC said it has to wait for the results of a public hearing on the 700 MHz spectrum auction.

Takorn insisted that the NBTC will not change the reserve price,set at 25 billion baht, and the three operators have the right not to participate in the bidding without being fined.