NBTC screening Takorn successor

NBTC screening Takorn successor

The secretary-general is headed to the Election Commission.
The secretary-general is headed to the Election Commission.

The board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is moving to screen a qualified candidate to temporarily replace existing secretary-general Takorn Tantasith, who will leave his current post to join the seven-seat Election Commission (EC).

The four deputy secretary-generals are the preferred candidates to take Mr Takorn's seat. The winner will be designated acting secretary-general.

The current deputy secretary-generals are Trairat Viriyasirikul, who is responsible for strategic and internal affairs; AVM Thanapant Raicharoen, who directs regional and spectrum management; Asst Prof Pakdee Manaves, in charge of broadcasting regulatory management; and Korkij Danchaivichit, responsible for telecom regulatory management.

Mr Trairat and AVM Thanapant are the top candidates, according to a source on the NBTC board who asked not to be named.

The acting secretary-general must be selected by January 2018 because the EC will receive official approval by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) at that time.

On Dec 5, 15 candidates for the EC were called upon by the NLA to present their vision. The final stage included only five candidates, including Mr Takorn, who were deemed qualified. Mr Takorn obtained the highest score among the short-listed candidates.

The Supreme Court will add two representatives to the five candidates serving on the seven-seat EC.

Qualified candidates for the EC must be confirmed by at least 125 members of the NLA by mid-January (45 days after Dec 5), before moving to the endorsement process.

Approved candidates for the EC are required to resign from their current positions within 15 days of approval.

The source said the NBTC board is in the process of selecting the most qualified candidate to handle the responsibilities currently held by Mr Takorn.

As acting secretary-general, the position requires making close calls, the source said. Policies have to be implemented at the right time, the pros and cons weighed, and policies must align with the government's flagship policies.

Changes in the telecom and broadcasting businesses can have a systemic impact on the economy and people's daily lives, the source said.

"Balancing the benefits of certain policies and having the audacity to implement unexpected and urgent measures, like the banning of new illicit websites or social media, are essential for the job," the source said.

Mr Takorn has run the NBTC's routine operations and implemented its roadmap through several core projects, including the auction of its 3G licences in 2012, the 4G licence bidding in 2015 and the new registration system for SIM cards.

Mr Takorn declined to comment on who would be the best selection to serve as acting secretary-general.

"It's too early to say," he said.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC will host a public hearing for the auction draft of the 1800- and 850-megahertz spectra on Dec 18. He plans to attend the event.

The 1800- and 850MHz spectrum ranges are now operated by Total Access Communication (DTAC) under a concession through state-owned enterprise CAT Telecom. The concession expires on Sept 30 of next year.

The draft auction design for both bands was approved by the NBTC's board on Nov 8 and will be based on the previous 4G licence auctions in 2015.

The current board will not auction the 1800- and 850MHz licences, however, as its six-year term expired in October, though they have continued to work in those positions to this date.

The new NBTC Act, which came into effect in June, ruled that the government must recruit a new NBTC board to replace the existing one.

Mr Takorn said the NLA's selection committee began drafting the NBTC's recruitment conditions last month. Interested potential NBTC candidates can apply during Jan 8-12 of next year.

"We should see the names of candidates for the new NBTC in March or April of next year," Mr Takorn said.

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