Thailand Prepares for Digital Switchover with DVB-T2
Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) selected DVB-T2 as the standard for Thailand’s digital television broadcasting and the proposal was approved by the government in 2012 as part of the “Go Digital Thailand” project. DVB-T2 was selected as it offers “the best transmission efficiency”.
It is now widely reported that the NBTC is readying for the auction of digital television broadcast licenses which should take place by the end of this year or early 2014. According to Thakorn Tantasith, NBTC’s secretary general, the agency is meeting with 33 television network operators that have already delivered bidding documents, in order to clarify the details of the bidding procedures. The final application period was set for October 28-29.
Fierce competition is expected as bidders are aiming for a share of more than the 100 billion baht advertising revenues that product owners spend on Thai television network each year.
At present there are six free television channels : 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and Thai PBS; however, once it is up and running, DVB-T2 will enable Thai audiences to view programs from up to 48 channels. The 48 digital outlets will comprise 12 community channels, 12 public channels, and 20 commercial channels; the remaining four will be high definition television. With more channels available, niche programming such as sports, food, travel and technology channels could be part of the digital bouquet. It is expected that the multichannel environment will open up opportunities for new production companies to provide content giving consumers more choices.
According to the NBTC, 84% of the population in Thailand have access to television, 50% of which is via terrestrial or free TV, while around 29% and 26% of households have access to cable and satellite TV respectively.
Initially most digital services will be delivered via a set-top box and the NBTC will support the transformation to digital, especially community channels. The NBTC noted that on the issue of set-top boxes, the government must subsidize costs by offering public loans or coupons, and also support local manufacturers in terms of specifications.
The T2 system is expected to be up and running in 2014.