Chan 25 owner refuses to sell BBTV shareholding

Chan 25 owner refuses to sell BBTV shareholding

Surang Prempree, the owner of Chan 25 Co, a potential digital-TV bidder, insists she will not sell her 21% stake in Channel 7's Bangkok Broadcasting & Television Co (BBTV) even though the refusal will violate auction rules.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) imposed a rule prohibiting related parties or entities with more than 10% stakes in cross-holding from submitting multiple bids in the same category.

Surachai Danaitangtrakul, a legal adviser to Chan 25 Co, said Ms Surang has no plans to sell her shareholding in BBTV and will continue to use Chan 25 to participate in the bidding for a license for a high-definition (HD) channel.

BBTV, the broadcaster of Channel 7, plans to participate in the auctions for HD and variety standard-definition channels.

Mr Surachai said the rule is not suited to current business prospects. Moreover, Chan 25 and BBTV have separate operations.

Chan 25 is ready for the auctions, with financial backup and a 200-million-baht, newly built studio near Rewadee School in Bangkok. Ms Surang also holds many broadcast rights for beauty contests such as Miss Thailand Universe.

"If Chan 25 is disqualified, we will appeal to the NBTC and related agencies for justification and fairness," said Mr Surachai.

He said the management of BBTV sent a letter to Ms Surang requesting her to sell the 21% stake in the company. If she agrees to sell her shares in BBTV, the Ratanarak family led by former banker Krit, the BBTV's major shareholder, will buy them. But if Ms Surang does not want to sell her stake in BBTV, the operator of Channel 7 will request that she withdraw Chan 25 from the digital-TV auctions.

Those who want to bid in the auctions are have to submit their bidding documents to the NBTC from Oct 28-29.

An industry source said this issue is escalating and becoming a new war between Ms Surang and Channel 7. Both sides will fight head-on to win the game.

Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, said the auction rules will not be revised for any specific operator.

Channel 7 last month submitted a letter to the NBTC saying that Ms Surang's 21% stake in BBTV has no influence on company management.

"This controversy will settle itself. The NBTC will strictly consider the bidders' qualifications under the rules," said Col Natee.

BBTV and Chan 25 must settle their differences before submitting their bidding applications late this month.

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