'Out of control' OTT services draw scrutiny

'Out of control' OTT services draw scrutiny

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) - official regulator and censor - aims to create a 'level playing field' for old media by regulating the taxing OTT or streaming services. (Illustration Creative Commons/GroundReport.com)
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) - official regulator and censor - aims to create a 'level playing field' for old media by regulating the taxing OTT or streaming services. (Illustration Creative Commons/GroundReport.com)

Streaming video-on-demand services from over-the-top (OTT) operators are set to be regulated by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) after operating freely for years.

The resolution was reached at Monday's NBTC board meeting. The regulator is trying to curb "out of control" online content, said Col Natee Sukolrat, the NBTC's broadcasting committee chairman.

The aim is to create a level playing field between OTT and traditional broadcasters.

Col Natee said another resolution at the meeting sought to consider appropriate measures governing broadcast activities of non-broadcasters.

"We [NBTC board] agreed to regulate OTT broadcasting services because of the influence of the modern mass-media platform that reaches a large audience," he said.

Natee: Aims to shield traditional operators

Col Natee said traditional broadcasters have been hit by OTT services that have increasingly eaten into advertising market share.

OTT operators have not faced regulation akin to what traditional broadcasting and telecom companies endure.

Col Natee said the board approved the set-up of a working panel for determining a regulatory framework to govern OTT services.

The panel will have a one-year term and consist of 11 members, including ICT experts. Col Natee will chair the panel.

The first round of panel meetings is scheduled to take place this Friday.

Col Natee said it's too early for the NBTC to provide further details about the regulatory framework.

"We need to discuss in more detail with all members of the working panel before setting clear regulations," he said.

Col Natee said OTT services are commonly divided into two types: free platform (advertising-driven) and paid platform (monthly payment and pay-on-demand).

Free OTT platforms include Line TV, YouTube and some digital TV channels that broadcast their programmes via OTT platforms.

Paid OTT platforms include Netflix, Iflix, Hollywood HDTV, PrimeTime, AIS Play and TrueVisions Anywhere.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said OTT operators run mainly on mobile networks and are not required to pay any fees to the state, such as licensing fees.

Terrestrial digital TV, pay TV and internet protocol TV operators, on the other hand, are required to pay a slew of fees to the NBTC, plus corporate income tax.


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