The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to issue 36 licences for providing commercial digital terrestrial television service in February.
The reserve price for a commercial digital TV licence will likely not exceed 500 million baht, and a licence would be valid for 15 years, said Col Natee Sukolrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee.
Qualified bidders might be required to offer free set-top boxes to their customers, he added.
Col Natee said a final draft for the digital TV licence is being studied by Chulalongkorn University and the International Telecommunications Union.
The broadcasting committee approved a 2012-16 roadmap for the broadcasting industry in the digital era. The regulator will begin the permanent switch to digital in 2015.
Col Natee said there will be 60 digital terrestrial TV channels that will be divided into three groups: 36 channels for commercial digital TV, and 12 channels each for the general public and community purposes.
TV shows will be determined based on programmes for the general public, families and high-definition television.
"Each TV operator can only provide one channel," he said.
Col Natee said the NBTC plans to grant infrastructure licences for digital terrestrial TV and licences for terrestrial TV to the general public by this year.
Last week the NBTC presented a draft of regulations governing the transformation from analogue to digital TV to major TV and radio operators and other broadcasting-related service providers.
In another development, GMM Grammy Plc is moving aggressively to promote its satellite TV service with the introduction of a set-top box, a move aimed at challenging the use of conventional TV antennas.
Chairman Paiboon Damrongchai-tham said Grammy will launch its GMM Z Mini set-top box in the market this month, priced 650 baht.
The company invested 50 million baht to build the new receiver. Grammy also plans to start selling satellite dishes.
Mr Paiboon said 4 million households still use antennas. The set-top box offers 220 satellite channels including 10 of Grammy's channels.
"We expect to sell 2 million new set-top boxes in two years," he said.
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Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana & Pitsinee Jitpleecheep