Three measures to help digital TV firms

Three measures to help digital TV firms

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has agreed in principle on three measures to help cash-strapped digital-TV operators but has yet to make a final decision.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Tuesday related agencies would review the measures before a Section 44 order is drafted.  

The first measure is a delay in annual licence fee payments for three years from May 2018 to help with their liquidity but the operators will have to pay 1.5% interest during the period, said Lt Gen Sansern.

Second, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will subsidise multiplex stations (MUX) fees on their behalf for two years.

Third, their licences can change hands.

The NBTC called bids for 49 digital TV channels in late 2013. Bidders offered 50.9 billion baht for 24 channels -- 3.3 billion baht on average for an HD channel and 650 million baht  to 2.2 billion baht for standard resolution channels, depending on content type.

A year after the auction, several operators suffered huge losses, mainly due to high licence fees and a sea change in the TV landscape driven by the proliferation of social media and streaming services.

Some blamed the NBTC for failing to expand viewership and MUX nationwide as planned.

Only a handful of the operators showed profits, most notably Workpoint and Mono channels. 

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