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The Thailand issue of 24 new digital transmission licences is proving something of a financial catastrophe. Many of the channels have subsequently closed while some have yet to pay their digital auction fees.
Now Fox Networks Group is suing Bangkok Bank, which acted as guarantor to two of Fox’s major local clients (GMM Grammy and CTH) which held two licences issued by the National Broadcasting & Telecommunications Commission.
Fox is alleging that the bank has failed to honour its guarantees. The lawsuit, filed on December 12th with the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Court, will see Fox Networks Group Asia argue a claim of some $21.3 million that it said it is owed after Thai pay-TV operator CTH Public Company Limited failed to pay licensing fees following its closure on September 1st 2016, according to the writ.
Fox has also filed a separate case against Bangkok Bank and another Thai pay-TV operator GMM Grammy Public Company Limited in Thailand for a breach of licensing agreement and guarantee. It is seeking over $6 million in past due fees from GMM Grammy, which also failed to pay its licence fees, Fox said.
Fox Networks said that Bangkok Bank is Thailand’s largest guarantor for digital television operators, providing bank guarantees totalling over $600 million for the industry. “Forty per cent of digital television operators are guaranteed by Bangkok Bank,” said Zubin Gandevia, president for Fox Networks Group in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Gandevia added: “Our fear is that this could trigger a collapse in this sector [in Thailand]. If they are not paying us, will they default on the other bank guarantees? What will this do to the whole industry?”