By Watchiranont Thongtep
The broadcasting regulator yesterday reiterated that the upcoming must carry rule would not lead to broadcasters violating copyright laws.
“The must-carry rule will be used to guarantee Thais’ basic right to watch free-TV programmes via any platform such as antennas and cable and satellite receivers,” said Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission’s broadcasting committee.
The Department of Intellectual Property yesterday expressed concern that the rule would probably breach copyright laws.
Natee said cable and satellite TV receivers were considered as normal TV antennas for viewing free-to-air contents, namely international sports tournaments, movies, drama series and documentaries.
However, broadcasters must ensure that they can limit transmissions to within the country to avoid violating copyright restrictions.
The NBTC had already discussed the matter with the Department of Intellectual Property on Thursday before convening a special meeting on Saturday to iron out the details after a public hearing with parties on July 16.
The draft regulation will be submitted the Secretariat of the Cabinet and published in the Royal Gazette this week.
Under the rule, all broadcasters must understand that radio, television and telecommunications frequencies are considered national resources, so free-to-air TV operators must be responsible for providing public broadcasting services across the country on any platform. Companies holding media rights to such events as the quadrennial Euro soccer tournament must be aware of this regulation before striking any deals with free-TV operators.
Both existing terrestrial TV stations and future digital services are expected to be covered by the rule.
The six free-TV stations are BEC’s ThaiTV3, Army’s TV5, BBTV’s Channel 7, MCOT’s Modernine TV, National Broadcasting Television and Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS).
Those TV stations would also have to comply with impending regulations until broadcasting-frequency reallocation is completed.
Once the NBTC issues licences for digital TV, network providers must carry public broadcasting services, such as NBT and ThaiPBS. However, network providers will be free to select which commercial channels to carry.
To carry TV programmes from commercial channels, cable and satellite TV operators must submit their request for selected commercial channels to the NBTC at least 60 days in advance. After receiving permission, they must carry the programmes on their media platforms for at least one year.