The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has reiterated that the deadline for satellite and cable TV operators to apply for non-frequency broadcasting licences will not be extended.
"Any operators who fail to comply with our new licensing requirements by Dec 16 are at risk of being forced out of business," said Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee.
Suphajee Suthumpun, the chief executive of Thaicom Plc, said an extension of the deadline may be needed, or else viewers of operators that do not comply will face a "black screen" on TV.
The NBTC kicked off the regulation process for cable and satellite TV operators by allowing them to register for non-frequency broadcasting licences from Nov 2 until Dec 16.
The commission expects to grant the first licences this month, aimed at bringing 1,000 cable and satellite TV operators in the country under the broadcasting laws.
The non-frequency broadcasting licences will be divided into three types - facility provider, infrastructure and channel operator.
The licences will be offered for 14-15 years.
Some 500 satellite TV channels operate on 20 satellite networks nationwide, with 500 cable TV operators running on 900 networks.
Companies that receive licences must strictly comply with NBTC broadcast requirements, or the licence will be revoked. Operators that do not apply for a licence may be forced to abandon the business.
Col Natee acknowledged that only 300 operators out of 1,000 had applied for licences.
Most operators are reluctant to apply, reflecting concerns about unpredictable future effects and unclear conditions and treatment.
Under the licensing system, operators must pay a 2% licence fee and a 2% universal service obligation fee based on total revenue before expenditures.
Col Natee said there is no good reason to extend the deadline seeing as the regulations have already been published in the Royal Gazette.
Ms Suphajee said satellite operators see the regulations as a burden rather than an incentive to join.
"If the deadline remains unchanged, then viewers will probably be affected," she said.
The number of cable and satellite TV household subscribers has reached 10 million.
A total of 472 satellite TV channels are broadcasting content via Thaicom's satellite transponder.
Some 80% of Thaicom's broadcasting capacity is being used by big operators such as TrueVisions.
At a Thaicom seminar yesterday on the future of Thai satellite TV, major satellite operators expressed concern about the new regulations.
Dew Waratangtagoon, the managing director for platform strategy at GMM Grammy's satellite TV arm GMM Z, said the regulations show the NBTC does not understand the satellite business.
Sura Gaintanasilp, an executive vice-president of MCOT, speculated the rules will cause a regulatory burden and increase operating costs.
The NBTC's duty should be to foster competitiveness instead of creating a regulatory burden, he said.
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Writer: Komsan Tortermvasana and Chadamas Chinmaneevong