As the must-carry rule for broadcasting went into effect yesterday, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) warned some 800,000 obsolete set-top boxes from cable providers may be blacked out during the Olympics because they cannot decode the signal.
Kittisak: Six contracts to be replaced
The must-carry rule requires all public TV service providers, especially terrestrial TV operators, to ensure that every household in Thailand is able to view all their scheduled programming.
All TV network signal carriers, such as satellite transponder service providers, will be required to relay scheduled TV programming continuously.
In addition, all subscription TV service providers, such as those on cable TV, will be required to rebroadcast public TV programmes and may neither block nor change any of their content or schedule.
Cable TV operators, PSI in particular, were asked by NBTC to support customers who own old boxes to prevent blackouts.
PSI managing director Vorasit Leelaburanapong said the company is encouraging its customers to replace the obsolete boxes with a new one, at a promotional price of 499 baht.
The rule stipulates the transmission frequencies for radio or television broadcasting and telecommunications are considered national resources for the public interest.
Nont Horayangkura, a partner of Baker & McKenzie, said the must-carry regulation is lacking in details on certain issues, particularly copyright arrangements, which has raised concern among public TV service providers about possible copyright infringement.
"This regulation will likely raise the cost of copyright licences and with it the overall operating costs of providers," he said.
The regulation is also silent on how providers should collect royalty fees for rebroadcasting or viewing for commercial purposes. "The NBTC may be required to address additional conflicts over copyright arrangements soon," said Mr Nont.
Meanwhile, the board of CAT Telecom has agreed in principle to scrap the existing third-generation (3G) network contract with its concessionaire True Corp to avoid a possible legal backlash.
The state telecom enterprise's management committee raised the issue at its board meeting yesterday, discussing a proposal to draft an entirely new contract with True to replace the existing one.
"The existing six contracts of True and CAT will be replaced once the new draft contracts are completed," said Kittisak Sriprasert, CAT's chief executive.
Under the new draft, True will become a mobile virtual network operator for CAT.
The draft will require approval by the CAT board first before passing to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry for consideration and finally the cabinet.
Mr Kittisak said the board will meet again on Aug 8 to consider the draft.
He suggested True slow its 3G marketing pending a contract resolution.
The NBTC ordered CAT on June 20 to amend its 3G network contracts with True within 30 days to comply with Section 46 of the Frequency Allocation Act of 2010. The act requires licence holders and spectrum owners to manage spectrum rights on their own.
If CAT is unable to comply, it could ultimately face the revocation of its 3G licence by the NBTC, which would have massive implications for TrueMove and its customers.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter