NBTC sets target to issue 11m digital TV coupons

NBTC sets target to issue 11m digital TV coupons

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will distribute discount coupons to half of the nation's television viewers in the next few years.

NBTC commissioner Supinya Klangnarong yesterday told the House committee on consumer protection about its plans to distribute discount coupons to ease the transition to digital television transmission.

There are about 22 million TV-viewing households in the country. About half will have received the discount coupons before this government's term ends in about three years' time, Ms Supinya said.

She was giving evidence to a House committee to explain NBTC plans to issue digital TV licences this year.

Ms Supinya said the NBTC will distribute discount coupons for consumers to buy digital TV sets or set-top boxes. The NBTC will not specify TV or set-top box brands, but will distribute stickers to certify which devices are technically sound.

The NBTC is yet to decide the discount rate and the way in which it will distribute coupons. The agency plans to use part of the proceeds from its auction of digital TV licences to pay for the discounts, helping to cut the costs of the transition for the public. The discount rate will depend on the amount raised from auctioning the licences.

There will be 48 digital TV channels _ 12 will be reserved for government agencies, 12 will be allocated for community services and the other 24 will be put up for auction.

The NBTC will adopt Europe's digital TV system, which operates in 129 countries. The system is stable and is expected to be in widespread use for the next four to five decades, Ms Supinya said. She said the parties capable of broadcasting digital TV should be those with existing broadcasting networks like the Public Relations Department, Mcot Plc and the operators of TV Channel 5 and TV Channel 7. She also said telecommunications service companies could modify their stations to transmit digital TV signals.

Private operators can obtain the licences if their foreign shareholding is capped at 25% and their broadcasting networks cover at least half the country, Ms Supinya said.

The licences of the 24 commercial channels will be valid for 15 years. They will comprise four high-definition channels, five news channels, five channels for young people and 10 channels for general programmes.

Ms Supinya said analogue TV broadcast will continue until all viewers switch to digital TV receivers.

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