NBTC cuts news content for digital TV

50% of programming must be informative

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has approved a reduction in the minimum amount of informative content for digital-TV news channels to 50% from 75%.

Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, made the announcement yesterday after the draft regulation on digital-TV auctions had a public hearing among broadcasters.

"The reduction will help news channels to have a more practical business model," he said.

Previously, iTV Plc, which was granted a concession by the Office of the Prime Minister to run a news channel, was unable to survive with 75% informative content.

The rule was too strict for iTV to run a news station, said Col Natee.

However, public digital-TV channels will still be required to have at least 75% of their content informative.

"Digital TV will have seven news channels, and we hope they will not face financial problems like iTV encountered," said Col Natee.

To promote informative content reaching as many viewers as possible, the NBTC requires news-channel operators to provide an equal amount of informative content during both prime time and non-prime time periods.

Another change is bidding for digital children's channels will have increments of 1-2 million baht per bid.

Other categories will keep their increments per bid including high-definition channels at 10 million baht a bid, standard-definition channels at 5 million per bid and news channels at 2 million per bid.

Bids for children's channels start from 140 million baht.

The draft regulation on the digital-TV auction method will be submitted to the NBTC committee for approval tomorrow.

An information memorandum for commercial channels will be announced next month, with auctions to be held in October.

Col Natee said the regulator also approved Thai PBS's licence for digital-TV facilities, which allows 18 different broadcast towers.

The licence, the first for a digital TV facilities provider, will last 15 years.

About the author

Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn
Position: Business Reporter