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Widespread call for single media platform to watch free-to-air channels

Sep 06. 2012
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By Watchiranont Thongtep
The Nat

Satellite- and cable-TV operators, a consumer rights protection group and scholars yesterday called for a single platform for accessing free-to-air television programmes in light of the intense competition among leading satellite-TV companies that sell th

The various parties made their case at the “NBTC Public Forum”, organised by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission to seek a way out for local viewers that could be bearing unnecessary costs to get access to exclusive TV programmes via different platforms.

   Wichit Aurareevorakul, executive adviser to the Thailand Cable TV Association, said that to deal with this challenge in the future, particularly when the digital terrestrial-TV broadcasting service is in place, the TV broadcasting industry should encourage the use of a hybrid satellite-TV set-top box, or DVB TSC (digital video broadcast for terrestrial, satellite and cable TV).

   With this integrated technology, he said viewers would be able to watch all free-to-air TV channels via a single media platform.

   Underlining this point, Teerayuth Boonchote, senior vice president for broadcasting at Thaicom, the parent company of DTV, said that with current broadcasting technology, the provision of terrestrial, satellite and cable-TV programmes could be integrated into a single platform.

   However, Thanongsak Sukhanindr, acting director of NBTC’s Mobile TV and IPTV Bureau, said that such advanced technology would bring higher costs to customers. The cost is expected to be about Bt2,500 a box.

   He said that in the near future, TV-set manufacturers would take the opportunity to develop cutting-edge technology products with a built-in signal receiver that are compatible with digital terrestrial, satellite TV and cable TV.

   Bunyuen Siritham, chairwoman of the Confederation of Consumer Organisations, Thailand, called for the NBTC to design and establish a proper standard for satellite-TV set-top boxes, control false advertising and promote free and fair competition in order to prevent consumer confusion.

   However, Manop Tokarnka, president of IPM, a producer and distributor of satellite-TV set-top boxes, said: “We should let the set-top box business grow in accordance with the market mechanism.”

   Nation Broadcasting Corp president Adisak Limprungpatanakij said the NBTC should take the opportunity to design and create a national TV rating-measurement system via a single media platform, if all relevant parties in the industry could reach agreement on the issue.

   The issue has come to a head due to intense competition among local satellite-TV operators. For example, pay-TV operators like TrueVisions and other music and entertainment companies s keen on operating pay-TV services in the near future, such as RS and GMM Grammy, are now offering set-top boxes with special benefits to their customers.

   Yesterday, True Corp’s convergent-business unit, TrueLife+, launched a campaign to boost the number of its satellite-TV boxes in use. True Corp is the parent company of TrueMove and TrueVisions.

   Under the campaign, which runs until the end of November, TrueMove H’s post-paid customers paying a Bt399 monthly package, and ultra-high speed Internet customers paying up to Bt599 for a package, can borrow TrueLife+ set-top boxes for free access to 60 exclusive channels on TrueVisions, as well as to 70 selected live matches from the English Premier League.

   The set-top boxes must be used with KU-band satellite TV dishes only.

   GMM Grammy’s subsidiary for satellite-TV business, GMM Z, recently joined forces with Advance Info Service, the country’s largest telecommunications company, to launch the “Buy Bt990 GMM Z box, get free calls valued at Bt1,200 from One-2-Call service” promotion, which runs until the end of November.

   Meanwhile, RS is offering the RS Sunbox with free DTAC prepaid service and mobile Internet, worth Bt1,590 combined over a year. The promotion lasts until the end of next month.


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