The head of the EU delegation in Thailand is calling on the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to revise new draft regulations on foreign dominance or risk violating World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, says a source at the regulator.
David Lipman, ambassador and head of the EU delegation to Thailand, submitted a letter in opposition to the NBTC's new foreign dominance regulations, saying the rules were not in compliance with WTO agreements and national treatment commitments.
Mr Lipman will meet with the NBTC to discuss the issue today, said an NBTC member.
Last month the NBTC approved a draft of new regulations to prevent foreign dominance of local telecom operators. The regulations are expected to become effective in August.
The rules will be enforced under the authority of the 2010 Frequency Allocation Act and 2001 Telecom Business Act and be used when the NBTC auctions 2.1-gigahertz of third generation (3G) spectrum licences in October.
The term dominance in the draft means having direct or indirect control or influence on local telecom operators in determining business policies, management, operations, and the appointment of the ranks, including directors and top executives.
The dominance could be achieved through majority share ownership, control over the majority of the voting rights, or the power to appoint or remove more than half the board.
Unlike the existing regulations, the draft regulations do not contain a clause requiring the watchdog to consult national security agencies about the suspected foreign dominance. The NBTC does not view the foreign dominance issue as a national security issue.
The new draft contains eight forms of possible foreign dominance that operators should avoid compared with 10 in the existing regulations.
Meanwhile, the NBTC board yesterday approved a draft of new regulation on granting concessions and contracts to broadcasting companies.
Television Channels 3 and 7 as well as pay-TV operator TrueVisions will likely be subject to the new regulation under the Frequency Allocation Act of 2010.
A public hearing on the draft will be held 30 days before it takes effect.
The 3G-licence auction, planned for the fourth quarter of this year, will offer nine slots on the spectrum, each with 5 MHz of bandwidth.
Somprasong Boonyachai, the executive chairman of Advanced Info Service, said AIS would need only 15 MHz of bandwidth for its 3G wireless broadband service. Each bidder is limited to 20 MHz.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter