Digital TV bidders unsure of holdings

Potential digital TV bidders are concerned about unclear shareholding criteria that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has imposed in a bid to prohibit collusion.

Broadcasters whose major shareholders are similar cannot join the bidding together, as they may collude and protect their nominees in the auction.

The regulator has imposed two measures to prevent collusion.

The first scheme has been developed from a ruling by the Prime Minister's Office based on e-auction rules, which require the largest shareholder to hold at least 25% of the company.

The second scheme is developed from criteria by the Stock Exchange of Thailand, which requires the largest shareholder to hold at least 10%.

Torpong Selanon, a member of the digital transition subcommittee, said the NBTC will consider the collusion-preventing criteria. The first scheme is suitable for a small company, while the second one is for a big company.

A representative of TrueVisions said the company wants the NBTC to choose only one scheme. If the regulator uses two models, the firm cannot make a decision to operate in the best way.

Chitlada Hengyotmark, senior vice-president for legal and government affairs at GMM Grammy, said she supports the first scheme since it would benefit the company.

The first model will be in line with the Broadcasting Act, which allows foreign investors to hold a maximum 25% stake, while the second model will be suitable to apply with finance companies.

Nipon Naksompob, president of the Satellite Television Association (Thailand), said he was concerned about the unclear shareholding criteria even though its main purpose is to curb potential collusion.

``If the bidder wins the auction and then changes the shareholding structure, it's an act of collusion. How can the regulator prevent this point?'' he asked.

The information memorandum for digital TV includes a spectrum management plan, bidder qualification, auction procedure and period of time, reserve and starting price, schedule and auction venue, and used spectrum fee.

About the author

Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn