PSI given nod as pay TV operator

NBTC wants segment to use cable, satellite

PSI Holdings, Thailand's biggest satellite TV platform provider, has been approved as a pay TV operator by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

Its approval is a significant step in the Thai broadcasting industry, as free TV will broadcast only via a digital terrestrial system, while pay TV service will be on cable and satellite TV platforms.

PSI provides TV service to 10 million households nationwide.

Chief executive Somporn Teerarochanapong said PSI had declared itself a pay TV platform operator without a monthly fee. However, it is a pay TV provider, as consumers will be charged a one-time fee for its set-top box.

Thailand has 11 pay TV operators — GMM Z, CTH, TrueVisions, Thaicom’s DTV, IPM, TOT, Linear Cable TV, Charoen Cable TV Network, RS’s K-Master, MSS Pathum Thani Cable TV and PSI Holdings. Another 11 operators have not applied for pay TV operator licences.

"The clearer status for major broadcasting operators also means they are responsible for carrying only quality TV channels on their platforms. Rubbish or irresponsible TV channels will be eliminated from the broadcasting system in the future," said Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC’s broadcasting committee.

Additionally, the regulator approved another 40 channels to air on the pay TV platform, bringing the total to 387 pay TV channels. A further 50 channels are awaiting scrutiny as they may contain illegal or improper content, particularly exaggerated advertising claims.

Among 738 licensed channels, about half of channel operators have already seen their status change.

Col Natee said the NBTC’s panel also agreed with the Royal Thai Army’s plan to revise Channel 5 as a public-purpose digital channel.

Channel 5 has vowed to become a public digital TV channel for national security, creating an adjustment plan with a five-year time frame. It will increase informative content to 70% of the total by 2017, up from 40% currently.

Col Natee said if Channel 5 could adjust itself as planned by 2017, the NBTC would automatically award it a four-year public TV licence for national security. It is allowed to air some commercials, but the channel cannot profit from them.

This agreement operates under section 70 of the Broadcasting Act, and the Public Relations Department's Channel 11 and the state-owned Thai PBS must also revise themselves similar to Channel 5.

The three analogue free TV channels (Channels 5 and 11 along with Thai PBS) must also submit their analogue switch-off plans this year.

Presently, some 24 digital TV channels received licences for commercial purposes and started their broadcast trials two months ago.

About the author

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Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn
Position: Business Reporter