The TV industry in Thailand is set to introduce a group of fresh faces (or at least a new location for old faces) in the near future, after it was announced by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission that there will be an auction for no less than 24 ‘digital terrestrial TV channel’ licences that are being made available in the Asian nation ahead of the beginning of their digital switchover plans.
The auction is noted as being set to take place across 26-27 December according to, broadcasting committee chairman Natee Sukonrat, with the first day on the ’27th & 28th floors of the CAT Telecom Tower’ in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok set to entertain the bidding process for 7 HD and 7 SD ‘variety channels’, followed the next day with an auction for news and children/family networks, all in SD slots (with a 7/3 split for the two genres).
It is claimed that the process will take place across 16 rooms on the two floors of the tower, with moderation coming from a 30th floor control room, whilst Thailand’s PBS network have offered their services in live coverage of the auction.
With the timing agreed, Sukonrat will head a committee that oversees two rounds of bidding each day, where a 6-hour opening round and decisive 4-hour second round will occur with ‘auction hours’ starting in the middle of each with a 2-hour break between rounds, making the day’s activities as a whole run for 12 hours from 8-8.
Natee summarised of what is required of bidders, including a maximum of 5 representatives in the delegation room for each round and the a set of business plan documents no larger than 10 pages: “We want to make this auction completely clean and clear. Therefore we are offering all bidders enough time before the auction begins.”
The single-event process of determining DTV licences is an interesting one which has been designed to further push forward the transition to mandatory digital terrestrial TV in Thailand, with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission already having invested THB20m (US$620,000) in necessary processes such as space rental and software development.
The next phases in that development will come just over a week after the auction, with 6 January’s ‘weekly board meeting’ officially ratifying the provisional list of successful bidders from the process and begin, with the next significant date in the switchover being the distribution of the first ‘Bt690 subsidy coupons’ to homes in midyear enabling the purchase of digital-ready equipment, a move in which Greater Bangkok and ‘key provinces’ have been targeted as priorities.
Further rollout in later years will see coupons provided as the relevant coverage areas become targeted for change (with designs on the year 2020 for the entire country to be covered), but to start with will their first steps be smooth ones?