Operators take NBTC to court
Five local cable TV operators yesterday petitioned the Central Administrative Court to cancel the Sept 8 resolution by the broadcasting regulator that will soon lead to the blackout of Channel 3.
The broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) earlier this month instructed satellite and cable TV operators not to carry analogue Channel 3 on their platforms within 15 days of receiving the order.
The five are Mahasarakarm Cable TV Network Co, James Cable TV Network Co, CTH Bangkok Co, J Cable TV Co and ICT Co. They also filed suit against three broadcasting commissioners who voted to issue the order — Lt Gen Peerapong Manakij, Thawatchai Chittrapanun and Supinya Klangnarong — for abuse of power and lack of public concern.
Teeraphol Karnjanakaj, the lawyer for the five cable operators, said the Sept 8 resolution would affect their cable TV operations.
The order is aimed at speeding up the digital transition after Asean nations agreed to stop analogue transmissions from 2015-20. Therefore, the NBTC still has enough time to run the digital migration gradually in order to mitigate the effect on Thais.
Some 70% of Thai families nationwide watch TV via the satellite and cable TV systems, and they will become the victims from the Channel 3 blackout if all satellite and cable platform operators comply with the Sept 8 resolution, Mr Teeraphol said.
"The NBTC has a national plan that gears Thailand towards the digital TV era within five years. We still have time left, so why is the regulator forcing us to stop analogue TV now?" he said.
The Sept 8 resolution by the NBTC's broadcasting committee is illegal under the Administrative Procedure Act, as the regulator did not contact the opposition and the licensees to clarify the order, Mr Teeraphol said.
The resolution was issued unlawfully since the three commissioners are stakeholders in the NBTC-Channel 3 dispute, he said.
Before the order was issued, Channel 3 sued the three commissioners for defamation after they claimed the channel was trying to hinder the country's digitisation.