A total of 29 companies submitted 41 applications for the 24 available digital TV licenses at the end of two-day application period ended Tuesday, according to National Broadcasting and Telecommunications commission (NBTC).
A total of 33 companies purchased 49 bidding documents, so only four companies did not submit bids.
Among the withdrawals was Chan 25 Co, owned by Surang Prempree, former managing director of Bangkok Broadcasting and Television Co (BBTV), which operates Channel 7.
Six companies filed bids for children’s channels, 10 for news channels, 16 for variety standard-definition (SD) channels, and nine for variety high-definition (HD) channels.
Bidders submitted their documents and paid 10% of the starting price in each category, via bank guarantees, ahead of the auctions in the middle of December.
The NBTC will review the bidding documents and the bidders' qualifications. The process will take 45 days.
The auctions will be based on the highest starting price. They will start with variety HD, variety SD, news and then children's channels.
The starting price for variety HD channel is 1.51 billion baht, followed by 380 million baht for variety SD channel, 220 million baht for news channel and 140 million baht for children's channel.
Surang Prempres decided not to bid for a digital TV licence to avoid affecting to BBTV, which operates Channel 7. (Bangkok Post file photo)
The withdrawal of Chan 25 is a relief to BBTV, which will qualify to take part in the bidding. This is because Mrs Surang and her husband Pairoj Prempree hold a combined 21% stake in BBTV, which is above the NBTC’s bidding criteria, that applicants must not have over a 10% stake of duplicated shareholders.
Mrs Surang earlier was approached to reduce her ownership in BBTV to below 10%, but no transaction had been concluded prior to the submission of bidding documents.
Mrs Surang said in the company’s statement handed to reporter at the NBTC office on Tuesday that her request to seek the opportunity for potential buyers to examine BBTV’s operation under the normal share purchasing procedure of a company with over 10 billion baht business was rejected by BBTV.
BBTV claimed that Mrs Surang had bad intentions, wanting to get confidential business information for BBTV’s competitors. BBTV later asked her to reduce her ownership in Chan 25, which she had rejected, according to the statement.
If Chan 25 insisted on going ahead with a bid, both companies would be disqualified .
Mrs Surang said that after taking into account all factors, Chan 25 decided to withdraw from the bidding to avoid hurting BBTV and its employees, who had been loyal to her, her mother and two brothers who helped found the company.