The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) approved the network rental rates yesterday for digital TV, with MCOT Plc offering the highest and Thai PBS the lowest.
Thai PBS will charge 4.6 million baht a month for a standard-definition (SD) channel and 13.81 million baht for a high-definition (HD) channel.
The rental rates for the Royal Thai Army will be 4.72 million baht a month for an SD channel and 14.16 million for HD. The Public Relations Department (PRD) will offer 4.65 million a month for an SD channel and 13.95 million for HD.
MCOT will charge 4.76 million a month for an SD channel and 14.28 million for HD.
The rates are set based on 95% coverage nationwide, which will expand according to the NBTC's plan _ 50% nationwide the first year, 80% the second year, 90% in the third year and 95% in the fourth year. Network expansion by MCOT and Thai PBS will cover 95% within two years.
Mongkol Leelatham, executive chairman of Thai PBS, said its network will cover 65% nationwide in the first year with 20 main broadcast towers and 95% in the second year. The first-year rent will be charged at 2.634 million baht a month for an SD channel and 7.9 million a month for an HD channel. The prices will be revised every three years based on inflation.
Chalit Lailikit, senior vice-president at MCOT, said its rents will be maintained for five years, then increase 3% annually along with inflation.
MCOT set a total investment budget of 1.6 billion baht for digital network expansion with its 35 broadcast towers and four Thai PBS towers.
MCOT decided to use its own towers, which are worth 2 billion baht. If it does not use its own broadcast towers, this 2-billion-baht asset must be returned to the Royal Forest Department.
An industry source said rents by the Royal Thai Army and PRD will be revised every year based on inflation.
Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, said the panel compared the rents with the reference rates provided by consultant Detecon, which took real investment, depreciation, long-term operation costs and value-added tax into account.
The offered rates did not include must-carry rule costs, as channel operators are responsible for that themselves.
Rents will be regulated after the first year's network roll out, which means the regulator will know their real investment costs. Four licensed network providers will directly propose their rates to digital TV channel bidders on Oct 21.
"The negotiation between channel operator and network provider can lower the rental rates. However, the rates must be fair for both," said Col Natee.
About the author
- Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn
Position: Business Reporter