Regulatory loophole for OTT

Regulatory loophole for OTT

Analysts: Ads possible via overseas servers

Facebook and Google's YouTube could miss the July 22 deadline, media analysts say. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Facebook and Google's YouTube could miss the July 22 deadline, media analysts say. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

Facebook and Google's YouTube could miss the July 22 deadline to register under the over-the-top (OTT) regulatory framework, but advertising agencies and spenders can avoid violating OTT regulations by using overseas servers, media analysts say.

"The two OTT platform giants [Facebook and YouTube] may not register by the deadline since those decisions depend on their headquarters," said Mana Treelayapewat, media analyst and dean at the School of Communication Arts at University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

"The OTT regulatory framework, proposed by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission [NBTC], is still unclear, and can do little to reel in Facebook and Google," he added.

Mr Mana said the NBTC's best bet is to negotiate with these two companies, and cut out some of the measures that most affect their business operations.

In any case, Mr Mana said the NBTC does not need to register Facebook and YouTube and further control them under its regulatory framework. The regulator can generally enforce the Computer Crime Act against those inappropriate contents.

"The NBTC actually can regulate those who broadcast violent, risky and threatening contents, even if their platforms are not registered on the new OTT framework," said Mr Mana.

The NBTC's intention is perhaps to wipe out inappropriate political and royalty contents in the meantime, he said.

Mr Mana said there is no reason for Thai media agencies and ad spenders to be anxious. Even if Facebook and YouTube are classified as illegal OTT platforms, agencies and spenders will still be able place ads on the platforms through overseas servers or international media agencies' headquarters.

He believed NBTC is trying to make unregistered OTT platforms feel guilty, but NBTC also has to think about national technology development.

On the other hand, Triluj Navamarat, chairman of the Media Agency Association of Thailand (MAAT), still believes Facebook and YouTube will register before the deadline.

The NBTC has already called on the country's most popular YouTube channels, and the 47 biggest ad spenders and media agencies to boycott non-compliant OTTs. Their failure to register may be considered a criminal act.

OTT businesses in Thailand can be divided into four categories: independent OTT operators, Pay TV operators who broadcast using OTT platforms, telecom operators who provide OTT services, and digital TV channels that broadcast programmes using OTT platforms.

Independent OTT operators include domestic operators like Hollywood HDTV, Doonee and PrimeTime, as well as foreign operators such as Line TV and Netflix.

Pay TV operators that broadcast via OTT platforms include PSI and TrueVisions Anywhere. AIS Play is a telecom operator that broadcasts on an OTT platform.

Digital TV broadcasters on OTT platforms include Channel 3, Mono, Channel 7, Workpoint and Channel 8.

Digital TV channels that broadcast on OTT platforms include Channel 3, Mono, Channel 7, Workpoint and Channel 8.

Col Natee Sukolrat, chairman of the subcommittee working on the NBTC's OTT framework, reaffirmed that he will continue regulating OTT platforms through OTT's framework.

"I want Facebook and YouTube to come to the commission and talk directly -- without the Asia Internet Coalition [AIC] as an intermediary," he said.

The AIC recently came out to expressed deep concern over what it described as Thailand turning its back on innovation with the NBTC's proposed regulations.

The AIC is an industry association formed in 2010 and its members consist of Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Apple, Twitter, Yahoo, Line and Rakuten. The association seeks to promote the understanding and resolution of internet policy issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

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