The broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) yesterday approved a digital plan to grant four licences for commercial high-definition (HD) channels next March.
Committee chairman Col Natee Sukonrat said the panel also agreed to issue 20 licences for commercial standard-definition channels.
Under the master plan governing digital broadcasting, the NBTC will issue 12 licences for public channels by year-end and another 12 for community purposes next year.
The committee previously approved the 2012-16 draft roadmap taking the broadcast industry into the digital era.
There are 60 digital terrestrial TV channels divided into three groups: 36 channels for commercial TV and 12 each for public and community service.
The NBTC breaks down programming type into information programmes; shows for the general public, children and families; and HD broadcasting.
Col Natee said since one HD channel consumes digital bandwidth equal to three standard-definition channels, the NBTC decided to reduce the number of commercial digital TV channels to 24 from 36 including four HD channels.
Of the total 20 commercial digital terrestrial TV channels using standard definition, five are designated for information programmes, five for children and families and 10 for the general public.
Col Natee said the draft of the approved plan will be submitted to the NBTC board on Oct 10 before being put forth for public hearings.
He said the reserve price for a commercial digital TV licence will be set at no more than 500 million baht.
Qualified bidders may have to offer set-top boxes to commercialise their digital TV service.
Each TV operator can operate only one channel from each group.
Col Natee said the NBTC will not set an upper reserve price for the auction.
"We want qualified operators providing good-quality content," he said.
The draft roadmap stipulates a switchover from the existing analogue broadcasting system beginning in January 2015.
About the author
- Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana
Position: Senior Business Reporter