MCOT may face fine for network rollout delay (The Nation)


MCOT may face fine for network rollout delay

NBTC panel mulls issue of warning to state media enterprise

MCOT may be fined under an administrative action by the broadcasting regulator because of the delayed roll-out of its digital TV transmission network.

Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), said yesterday that his panel was considering issuing a warning notice to the state media entreprise after receiving the report about the delay of its network expansion plan.

Natee revealed this to the press after meeting with executives from the 24 commercial digital terrestrial TV broadcasters and the four digital TV network providers.

According to NBTC licensing regulations, the holders of licences to operate a network to transmit terrestrial-based digital television must be able to cover at least 60 per cent of all households in the Kingdom in the second year of the network expansion, which started in August.

Natee said MCOT was seeking flexibility in its case, as it wanted at least two more months to complete its network-coverage commitment.

MCOT currently provides use of its network to Thairath TV, Springnews TV and Voice TV. But recently, its network failed to transmit digital TV signals to homes for eight hours.

Acting NBTC deputy secretary-general Sombat Leelapata said the commission expected to issue a warning notice to MCOT this month after the broadcasting panel's approval.

Bt20,000 a day

If MCOT cannot speed up the installation of transmitters to meet the commitment, it could be fined about Bt20,000 a day multiplied by the number of incomplete broadcast sites.

MCOT executive vice president Thanachai Wongthonsri acknowledged that it was an unavoidable delay but said the company would announce a public procurement for new digital TV transmitters as soon as possible and put it to tender. The winner of the bid will provide the transmitters and after-sales service for MCOT.

Apart from MCOT, the Public Relations Department has faced similar delays as the investment on its transmission network was pending after the seizure of power by the military.

The PRD is under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister's Office.

Natee explained that the PRD's case was different from MCOT's as currently no one was using the PRD's network, but the delay would have a direct impact on the birth of at least six new public digital terrestrial TV channels in the near future.

In a meeting yesterday to solve the network delays, the NBTC's subcommittee governing the digital transition floated an idea that it might negotiate with the PRD on temporarily using some of its unused bandwidth to telecast three TV channels that are using MCOT's network.

Unfortunately, after brainstorming with relevant parties, there was no agreement on this.