Channel 3, NBTC meeting fails to reach compromise
The dispute between Channel 3 and the broadcasting regulator is likely to face a deadlock after initial talks between the two sides on Tuesday failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion.
A source from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said during the two-hour meeting, Channel 3 asked the regulator to reduce its fees for an analogue TV concession and three digital channel licences to help cushion the financial burden in exchange for simulcast broadcasts.
During the meeting, both sides took an uncompromising stance, particularly commissioner Supinya Klangnarong, who almost walked out at one point.
Ms Supinya said Channel 3 requested "too many" incentives to help it reduce its costs if the analogue channel migrated its existing content to the digital terrestrial platform.
"If Channel 3 asks for too much, it will not be easy to reach a compromise and instead the channel should face a blackout," she said.
The next round of talks will be held again at the NBTC office once the broadcasting committee completes its information preparation.
The final outcome of the Channel 3-NBTC dispute depends on the votes of two commissioners, Tawatchai Chitrapanun and Lt Gen Peerapong Manakij.
NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the regulator's board agreed to ask its legal subcommittee to consider Channel 3's appeal.
It will have to consider whether the NBTC panel is violating the broadcasting committee's power as Channel 3 requested the NBTC board to review the broadcasting committee's resolutions including the blackout and the end of Channel 3's pay-TV status. If not, the panel will hold a special meeting on the case next week.
During the process, the resolutions made by the NBTC broadcasting committee on Feb 3 and Sept 8 remain effective. As a result, the blackout may occur on Sept 28, if negotiations fail.
In its appeal proposal, Channel 3 proposed three conditions to the NBTC board to solve its broadcast crisis. Chief among these was a request that the NBTC reconsider the resolutions of Feb 3 and Sept 8.
In related development, Mr Takorn said the NBTC yesterday approved compensation of 369.85 million baht to RS for the broadcast of the Fifa World Cup 2014 on free TV, lower than the previously agreed 427 million baht.
The payment includes 162 million baht from opportunity loss for set-top boxes, subscription fees, broadcasting sub-licensing revenue to TrueVisions, PSI Holding and local cable operators, and 207 million baht for the refund of set-top boxes and subscription fees and airtime rental costs.
RS can still submit an appeal to the NBTC if it is not satisfied with the payment.
Darm Nana, RS chief financial officer, said RS would appeal the case, arguing it wants the full amount of 427 million baht.