Digital TV gets year's reprieve on licence payments

Digital TV gets year's reprieve on licence payments

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board has agreed to postpone digital TV operators' second licence fee payment for another year.

Secretary–general Takorn Tantasith said the telecommunications regulator yesterday decided to postpone the second licence fee payment, totalling 8.7 billion baht and due on May 24, for a year to help reduce the financial burden on digital TV operators.

"We're worried that viewers will get low-quality content if digital TV operators face heavy financial problems. Operators will not have enough money to develop content," he said.

Since the advent of digital TV last year, several operators have been affected by political uncertainty, the economic slowdown and delays in the expansion of the digital TV network.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC would amend the auction rules in three areas and submit the amendment draft for public hearing by May 20.

The first amendment is that the delay will cover only the second licence fee payment due on May 24.

Second, digital TV operators wanting to postpone their payments will be charged interest of 1.75% during the postponement period to prevent lawsuits by losers in the digital TV auctions.

Third, digital operators must think about consumers by providing good content after they are allowed to delay their payment for one year.

However, Mr Takorn said if digital operators were ready to make their second payments on May 24, they were free to do so.

In another development, MCOT Plc president Sivaporn Chomsuwan yesterday said his company did not agree with the NBTC about the 100 million baht in compensation to return the unused 2600-megahertz broadcasting spectrum.

The figure of 100 million baht is just the assumed value of the frequency, he told Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula.

Mr Sivaporn said there were many conditions concerning the spectrum's return such as reasonable compensation and legal issues.

The NBTC will recall the unused 60 MHz of bandwidth out of 144 MHz on the 2600-MHz spectrum and include it in the auctions for 4G wireless broadband service.

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