NBTC eases up pressure on OTT
US business council airs displeasure
The national telecom regulator is pulling a U-turn on its registration rules as it tries to increase compliance of recalcitrant over-the-top (OTT) companies.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which took a hardline on its proposed framework during past weeks, is expected to relax its approach after its board meets Wednesday, a high-ranking official at the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry told the Bangkok Post. The move is to ensure regulatory practice complies with the new NBTC law in effect since June 22.
The regulatory framework forcing OTT service operators and platforms to register has been widely criticised by OTT-related businesses as it could affect the digital ecosystem.
The orders by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) for internet giants to register in Thailand or face an advertising boycott are under discussion by all those involved. (File photo)
Under the new NBTC law, the NBTC board serves as an interim board until the recruitment of new members for an OTT supervisory board is completed.
The source said the meeting of the NBTC board tomorrow aims to slow the present regulatory framework on three grounds. Before the announcement of OTT regulations, more hearings should be held, said the source.
The NBTC should provide a proper period for OTT comments because short notice can cause confusion and criticism of the regulations, said the source. The new regulatory framework must be submitted to the NBTC board for approval.
In April, the NBTC board (working under the old law governing NBTC) passed a resolution that video-on-demand by OTT operators is categorised as a broadcast business. It appointed a subcommittee to develop a regulatory policy to govern OTT business.
Consisting of 11 members and led by Col Natee Sukolrat, the subcommittee has a one-year term.
Col Natee said OTT platform providers have never paid any fees to the state, but have changed the TV viewing experience, significantly affecting advertising revenues.
Rapidly growing OTT services have never had their content filtered by a state agency, he said.
The subcommittee called on OTT-related business to hear the proposed regulatory framework, starting in April, as well as academics, terrestrial and digital TV operators, and ad agencies.
The subcommittee started implementing the regulatory framework on June 22, the day the new NBTC law was published in the Royal Gazette. However, actions by the subcommittee have never been submitted for approval to the NBTC board.
Col Natee demanded OTT operators and platform providers register with the NBTC within 30 days after June 22. Facebook, YouTube and Netflix have not registered.
He has attempted to sanction the unregistered OTT platforms by forcing ad agencies and the top 50 online spenders to collaborate with NBTC.
The source said the government was pressured by the US-Asean Business Council (USABC) through the NBTC and DE Ministry.
"A signal was delivered by representatives of USABC through the DE minister, urging the NBTC to resolve the issue prior to the meeting between the Thai prime minister and President Donald Trump this month," the source said.
The USABC, led by chairman Alexander Feldman, met the NBTC chairman and its management team at the NBTC office on June 22 to discuss the proposed regulatory framework. Mr Feldman also met Thai government leaders the same day.
The 30-year-old council represents over 140 of the largest US corporations, including AT&T, Chevron, Apple, Google, Facebook, Oracle, Qualcomm, Amazon, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Intel, Philip Morris International and FedEx.