World Star TV fined B72m for violating concession

World Star TV (Thailand) Co has been ordered by the Supreme Administrative Court to pay a fine of 72 million baht to the broadcasting regulator for violating its pay-TV concession with the Public Relations Department (PRD).

The PRD obtained the Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) frequency band from the Post and Telegraph Department to operate a pay-TV service in 1996.

After it gave a pay-TV concession to World Star TV, the company broke the contract by making subcontracts with three broadcasters _ RS Plc, Nation Channel and MVTV _ when the concession required World Star TV to operate the service on its own.

The PRD accused the company of violating its concession and asked for a fine. A time-consuming legal process ended when the court ruled that World Star TV was guilty and must pay a fine of 72 million baht.

A source at the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said World Star TV has no physical office but has famous fortune teller Kengkaj Chongjaipra as its consultant.

Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, said the MMDS frequency band held by the PRD is not being used, so the department has to clarify its concession by Saturday for the frequency's refarming, based on the NBTC's consideration.

"Free-TV broadcasters have to comply with the same rule as the PRD does. They have to declare their frequency utilisation as well," Col Natee said.

The broadcasting committee has approved the use of part of the very high frequency (VHF) band for a trial by radio stations operated by MCOT Plc, the PRD and the Royal Thai Army.

The trial will start on March 1 for Greater Bangkok as part of an NBTC seminar and workshop on the transition to digital radio technology.

Col Natee said 40-50 private operators in the auto industry will join the seminar.

The NBTC has agreed in principle a three-step guideline to regulate advertising for non-frequency broadcasters.

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Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn