Calls for over-the-top video industry to be self-regulating

Calls for over-the-top video industry to be self-regulating

The economic impact of employment in the OTT video industry is valued at 27 billion baht, or 0.17% of Thailand's total GDP.
The economic impact of employment in the OTT video industry is valued at 27 billion baht, or 0.17% of Thailand's total GDP.

Over-the-top (OTT) businesses should be self-regulating to ensure operational flexibility and enhance the business environment, which would be a boon for the labour market and the economy, according to a seminar held by Asia Internet Coalition, an industry association that gathers leading Asia-Pacific internet companies.

"OTT business is making a greater impact on employment, revenue and the economy while providing more choices for consumers," said Suthikorn Kingkaew, project leader of Thammasat University Research and Consultancy Institute, at the seminar on innovative policy approaches to Thailand's digital economy.

In 2020, the OTT video industry in Thailand created 45,106 jobs with a total economic impact of 74 billion baht, accounting for 0.47% of the country's GDP, he said.

The economic impact of employment in the OTT video industry is valued at 27 billion baht, or 0.17% of Thailand's total GDP. In addition, the economic impact of the OTT video industry's spending on other industries, and the OTT video industry's employees' spending, is valued at 29 billion baht, or 0.19% of Thailand's total GDP.

Traditional broadcasting businesses are able to continue operating in the face of changing consumer behaviour and growing revenue from OTT platforms, while small and medium-sized enterprises will have the opportunity to grow from advertising, allowing them to be widely known using a low budget, Mr Suthikorn said.

Consumers can spend their time more efficiently instead of waiting for a specific time to watch a preferred TV programme, and access it with a simpler and affordable price, as well as watch Thai content with high production quality because of the additional funding from OTT platforms and a reduction in the viewing of illegal content, he said.

"OTT platforms provide better opportunities for many small producers and studios to access a larger pool of consumers. This enables them to compete with big producers and studios," said Mr Suthikorn.

Unlike traditional media that has limited time for advertising and limits consumer choice, OTT video platforms give viewers the option to watch adverts. Viewers can pay for advert-free viewing to avoid them.

"OTT video services should not be regulated under the traditional law due to the different business models," said Mr Suthikorn. "It is impractical to use traditional broadcast regulations."

"Embracing self-regulation for OTT will provide greater flexibility and the platforms can be easily adapted to industry changes, resulting in a business-friendly environment."

With borderless services and advanced electronic media, strict and inflexible government regulations may not be appropriate for the OTT business, he said.

In addition, some government oversight will become obsolete over time as the rapidly changing OTT video businesses evolve.

However, Mr Suthikorn acknowledged the downside of self-regulation, saying this would depend on each organisation's willingness to participate, and this method lacked transparency, which could contribute to the perception that the regulatory regime was not being applied fairly with some community members benefiting more than others.

"If Thailand adopts such an approach to oversee the OTT video industry, it is necessary to address these issues in order to have more effective governance," he added.

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