Thai PBS promises more TV, radio output

Requests boost to B2bn annual budget

Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS), the country's first public TV station, wants the government to increase its annual budget of 2 billion baht as it is planning more TV channels and radio programmes.

Thepchai Yong, the outgoing managing director of Thai PBS, says: ‘We’re a key element in helping to develop the country’s democracy and encouraging public participation.’ He envisions a radio station and more channels, using the BBCas a role model.

Thepchai Yong, the outgoing managing director, said the broadcaster has submitted its budget-increasing proposal to the Finance Ministry twice - once to the previous Democrat-led government and then the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

"We asked for a 1-2% increase from the budget, which is set at 1.5% of excise taxes on cigarette and alcohol but not more than 2 billion baht, We've never received a response," he said.

The Thai Public Broadcasting Service Act of 2008 allows the government to adjust the annual budget for Thai PBS every three years.

Moreover, Thai PBS never received its initial outlay of 340 million baht from the government even though its station was established more than four years ago.

The public TV broadcaster, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, is now mulling adding a news and informative radio programme as well as additional TV channels to expand its audience base.

"We've sent our radio station proposal to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission [NBTC] for a licence approval, and this will depend on the master plan for radio frequency allocation," said Mr Thepchai.

The radio station investment is expected to be about 100 million baht.

As well, Thai PBS is highly interested in operating additional TV channels like its role model the BBC in the UK, which has a variety of channels for news, sports and features.

The NBTC recently approved a digital TV plan to grant 48 licences by next March including 20 commercial standard-definition channels and four high-definition channels.

The remaining 24 licences will be for a dozen public channels by the end of this year and another 12 channels for community purposes next year.

"We would like to say the 2-billion-baht budget is a worthwhile investment in such a good public TV for society. We're a key element to help develop the country's democracy and encourage public participation," he said.

Mr Thepchai, who is speculated to return to the Nation Multimedia Group's Asean TV project next year, is not worried about the future of Thai PBS under the leadership of veteran journalist Somchai Suwanban, saying Mr Somchai can further develop the station as planned.

He said Thai PBS can show its success after four years by pointing to its independent editorials with a strong network of people's news nationwide.

Its content includes news, in-depth and investigative reports, edutainment, features and soap operas.

Coverage is now expanding to cover Asean.

"TV-watching is a culture, and most Thai viewers are familiar with free TV programming. This cannot change overnight, but we hope those who are looking for high-quality programmes will turn to watch us more in the future," said Mr Thepchai.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Krissana Parnsoonthorn
Position: Reporter