Digital TV to get lower licence fees

Digital TV to get lower licence fees

The broadcasting regulator yesterday agreed to slash annual licence fees for digital TV operators to help them survive amid fierce competition.

The board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) approved a draft that sets annual licence fees at progressive rates instead of a fixed rate of 2% of yearly revenue.

The progressive rates will charge 0.5% on revenue of zero to 5 million baht, 0.75% on 5 million to 50 million, 1% on 50 million to 500 million, 1.75% on 500 million to 1 billion and 2% on amounts over 1 billion.

Under the new fee structure, the NBTC expects as many as five of the big digital TV operators to pay the full 2%.

The draft has cleared the process of public hearings and will be soon be published in the Royal Gazette.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the approval of progressive annual licence fee rates has the main objective of helping digital TV operators lower their financial burden and survive hard times.

Many digital TV operators have complained that their operations are still in the red because the broadcasting industry is so competitive.

Moreover, they have spent billions of baht on content and day-to-day operations, meaning a long period lies ahead to break even.

"We hope the operators will be satisfied with the new annual licence fee structure," Mr Takorn said. "This will support the country's smooth digital TV transition as well."

The licence fee payment will be made once a year. If any digital TV operator misses the payment or pays less than the required amount, it will be fined 1.5% a month for the unpaid amount.

Last year, the NBTC collected 580 million baht in annual licence fees from digital TV operators.

Digital TV operators have already paid three instalments of auction fees totalling 27.6 billion baht, representing 60% of total auction fees worth 50.9 billion baht.

The fourth instalment is due next May, and many operators have signalled intentions to delay the payment.

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