It seems TV in Thailand is even more valuable than cellular licences. The December 25th auction of 24 new digital TV licences raised a staggering $1.55 billion, which was greater than that raised by a 3G telecoms licence in October 2012.
The 20 successful bidders paid Thai Baht 50.62 billion, while the 3G licence went for Baht 41.6 billion ($1.27 billion) . This disparity is worrying some local experts who can’t help but point out that the cellular industry is a Baht 600 billion a year in revenues, while TV generates just Baht 100 billion.
And those TV payments are far from final. The licence winners must pay an annual tax of 2 per cent of pre-tax revenues, plus another 2 per cent to the national Universal Service Obligation Fund. Moreover the channels have to start broadcasting within 45 days, and that likely means a massive advertising campaign to alert viewers as to how to find the channels.
The revenues don’t all end up in the nation’s coffers. The funds will be used to pay for digital convertor boxes for about 22 million homes.