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NBTC may lower fee for R&D fund

Feb 16. 2016
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By Watchiranont Thongtep

The N

Financially struggling digital terrestrial television stations might find some relief after their regulator said yesterday that it would start considering lowering the research and development fee from 2 per cent to less than 1 per cent.



Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said the fee reduction was the key issue in the draft rule on fee collection for the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research and Development Fund for the Public Interest (BTFP).

The draft rule will soon go for a public hearing.

"The amendment of this draft rule is expected to get final approval and take effect within five months," he said.

Under this draft rule, a broadcaster must pay 0.1-1 per cent of gross revenue for the annual fee, which will be collected for the BTFP fund. And fee collection will not be retroactive after the implementation of this amended rule.

Under the old rule, a broadcaster has to pay up to 2 per cent of gross revenue for the R&D fund, but the NBTC has not yet started calling all 24 digital TV broadcasters to pay up.

In a meeting with the junta’s committee overseeing and following up on government spending, the NBTC also submitted a proposal to issue 11.6 million digital-TV vouchers to cover all households. The 13.8 million vouchers already distributed over the past two years did not seem to be enough to accelerate the transition to digital terrestrial TV.

"If the junta’s committee agrees with this plan, it will be forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration," he said.

There was still no conclusion after a meeting with representatives from the Council of State, Finance Ministry and Office of the Attorney-General on the idea of letting digital-TV broadcasters relinquish their licences without having to pay the remaining instalments of the upfront licensing fee.

There was also no conclusion on delayed instalment fees and extension of licence terms.

The NBTC also approved its annual budget of Bt5.67 billion, of which Bt5.39 billion will be allocated for administrative operations and the rest will be reserved for the BTFP fund.

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