The introduction of digital TV, and not helped by an economic downturn, has led to the end of life for some 400 satellite and cable channels this past year in Thailand.
The latest data from the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) reveals that 40 per cent of the 1,092 broadcasting licences that were registered last year are no longer in operation. This translates into 258 satellite TV channels, 158 cable TV channels and 15 IPTV channels.
Among those out-of-service channels, GMM Broadcasting has stopped its Z Pay TV34, Z1 and GTH On Air channel; CTH Cable TV has ended its Wisdom, Asian Food Channel, Australian Network, Max Sports and Kon Dontree; and True Visions Group has discontinued its RAMA Channel, Star World, Channel V Thailand, HD Showcase, Activ TV, BBC Earth, MTV HD, WE TV and True Information Channel, according to local reports.
However, 661 cable/satellite TV and iPTV channels are still operational. Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC’s Broadcasting Committee, explained to Thailand’s The Nation newspaper that this was the result of the launch of 24 digital terrestrial TV channels.
As of October, digital TV’s audience share increased to 39.2 per cent out of 22.3 million households, up from 15.96 per cent in the same period last year, while the share of six analogue TV channels fell to 60.8 per cent from last year’s 84.6 per cent.
However, there are some strong grumbles from some of the broadcasters concerned. For example, November 23rd saw Thailand’s Nation Multimedia Grp (NMG) sue the Thai regulator National Broadcasting & Telecoms Commission (NBTC) for almost Thai Baht 3 billion in damages for its alleged mishandling of the digital switch-over.
NMG operates two DTT channels, the Nation TV all-news station and Now 26 entertainment channel, and is the latest broadcaster to take complaints to the Central Administrative Court. NMG says it believes that the transition to digital television is crucial for the nation’s benefit.
The company appealed to the court for Bt2.96 billion in compensation, comprising Bt1.958 billion for Now 26 and Bt1.003 billion for Nation TV.
Adisak Limprungpatanakij, CEO at Nation Broadcasting Corporation, a member of NMG, said that there was an array of promises that the NBTC had not delivered on. “Although the commission is going to set a single standard of channel numbering across all platforms next month, we need more remedial measures for opportunity losses arising from the delay in the roll-out of the digital TV network under the NBTC,” Adisak said.