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The DTT auction in Thailand
On 26 to 27 December, the first auctions for licenses to provide commercial television services on the DTT platform took place in Thailand. These auctions generated much interest with 29 media groups vying for the 24 available licenses with 41 service proposals. Revenue generated by the auctions exceeded expectations with THB 50.65 billion (€1.12 billion) raised compared with the minimum price of THB 15 billion (€350 million) set by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) which organized the auctions.
Two auctions took place each day. On the first day, the two auctions for the licenses to provide 7 standard-definition (SD) and 7 high-definition (HD) general entertainment television services generated a total of THB 39.65 billion (€876 million). On the second day, the two auctions allocated 3 licenses for children’s television services and 7 licenses for continuous news services, generating THB 11 billion (€243 million).
Of the four auctions, media groups had the most interest in the general entertainment service licenses. While the auction for the 7 SD licenses had the highest number of participants (16 participants), the auction for the 7 HD licenses generated the most revenue (THB 23.7 billion / €524 million) which represents nearly half of the total income from the auction. The thematic services generated the least revenue with THB 1.9 billion (€42 million) for the children’s services licenses and THB 9.2 billion (€203 million) for the continuous news service licenses.
Seventeen media groups received licenses in these auctions. Among them, BEC won the most licenses with one license for an HD general entertainment service, one for an SD general entertainment service and one for a children’s service. Nation Multimedia Group, GMM Grammy, MCOT, Thai TV, and TrueVisions each won 2 DTT licenses. Currently, both BEC and MCOT offer services on the analogue terrestrial television platform as does BBT which won one DTT license. Some licenses have been acquired by companies outside of the broadcast sector such as GMM Grammy, a leading music company and Thai TV, a magazine publisher. TrueVisions is the largest pay television operator in Thailand.
The results of the DTT auction have now been confirmed by the NBTC and the official launch of the DTT platform is expected in April.
The high interest in the DTT licenses indicates the strong potential of the platform in Thailand. Already, the television market accounts for approximately half of all advertising spending and, in 2011, total television advertising reached $1.8 billion according to Credit Suisse. Some industry analysts believe that the launch of the DTT platform will result in an increase in the amount of advertising revenue earmarked for the television market.
In addition, the number of households that rely on the terrestrial platform may increase due to a government subsidy to be used towards the purchase of a DTT receiver. Currently, of the 22 million television households in the country, 50% rely on the analogue terrestrial television. However, all television households will receive a government subsidy making it likely that non-terrestrial homes will purchase a DTT set-top box which could encourage them to convert to the DTT platform. Initially, the amount of the subsidy had been set at THB 690. However, given the revenue generated by the DTT license auction, the NBTC is now considering to increase the amount of the subsidy to cover the cost of a DTT set-top box and reception antenna.
DTT platform offering and roll-out
Currently, the analogue terrestrial television platform offers viewers 6 free-to-air services. They are Channel 3 (MCOT), TV5 (Royal Thai Army), Channel 7 (operated by BBT, frequency channel allocated to the Thai Army), Modernine TV (MCOT), Channel 11 (Public Relations Department), and Thai PBS (Thai PBS).
The DTT platform will provide viewers with up to 48 television programme services in either standard- or high-definition. In addition to the 24 commercial services available on the DTT platform, viewers will be able to access 12 public broadcast services and 12 community broadcast services. Already, four licenses have been issued to some of the existing broadcasters on the analogue terrestrial platform, the Royal Thai Army (TV5), the Public Relations Department (Channel 11 / NBT), and Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS and Thai PBS Kids). All of these broadcasters are linked to the Thai army or government.
The DTT network operators have confirmed that they will reach 50% of the population by June 2014 which exceeds the requirement of the NBTC to reach this target within 1 year. DTT services will initially launch in Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and Songkhla on 1 April followed by Ubon Ratchathani, Surat Thani and Rayong on 1 May and Sing Buri, Sukhothai, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani on 1 June. By 2018, 95% of the population should have access to the DTT platform. However, the DTT network operators have already indicated plans to make the DTT platform available to 98% of the population by 2017.
The licenses to operate DTT networks have been allocated to the four broadcasters with services on the analogue terrestrial television platform, the Royal Thai Army, the Public Relations Department, MCOT, and Thai PBS. Each have been allocated a license to operate one DTT multiplex with the exception of the Army which will operate two DTT multiplexes following the Army’s agreement to end analogue terrestrial broadcasting on one of its frequency channels by 2018 rather than 2023. This frequency channel is used by BBT which has won a license on the DTT platform.
Broadcasters with service licenses on the DTT platform can now begin to negotiate with the broadcast network operators to determine which network to use. Rates proposed by network operators have been published and approved by the NBTC.
The DTT network will use the DVB-T2 standard and all receivers entering the market must comply with the minimum DTT receiver specification. Digital switchover is to be completed by 2020. The NBTC has appointed the 24 DTT license-holders to a committee that will oversee the digital switchover information campaign.
Source: Natalie Mouyal, on behalf of the DigiTAG Project Office
 Licenses for the 7 SD licenses were allocated to Thai Broadcasting (Workpoint), True DTT (TrueVisions), GMM, BEC, R.S. Television, Mono Broadcast, and Bangkok Business Broadcasting (subsidiary of NMG). Licenses for the 7 HD licenses were allocated to BEC, Bangkok Media and Broadcasting, BBTV, Triple V Broadcast (Thai Rath), MCOT, Amarin Television, and GMM. Licenses for the 3 children service licenses were allocated to BEC, MCOT, and Thai TV. Licenses for the 7 continuous news services were allocated to NBC Next Vision, Voice TV, Thai TV, Springnews Television, Thai News Network (affiliate of TrueVisions), DN Broadcast, and 3A Marketing.
DigiTAG is an association of stakeholders in the digital terrestrial TV industry and has members from broadcasting, network operators, regulatory, and professional equipment and consumer electronics manufacturing organisations throughout the world. DigiTAG has recently re-launched with new Statutes and the mission of defending and promoting digital terrestrial television on a worldwide basis, and, notably, will work tirelessly to protect spectrum for broadcasting, regardless of the technical standard used on the DTT platform.
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DTT NEWS ROUND-UP
For access to the full articles archive, please go to DigiTAG
Greece - Candidates invited to tender for DTT licenses
The Hellenic Telecommunications and Postal Commission (EETT) is inviting candidates to tender for licenses to operate the DTT platform.
Licenses are available for 1 spectrum rights license for the national DTT platform and 13 spectrum rights licenses for regional DTT platforms. Licenses will be allocated via a multiple round auction process and will be valid for a 15 year period.
Italy - Broadcasters interfering with international DTT platforms to shut down
The government has agreed to compensate broadcasters that have been allocated frequencies on the DTT platform that are not in conformance with the DTT frequency plan.
National administrations in neighbouring countries including Croatia, Slovenia and Malta have complained of interference to their DTT platforms caused by the use of frequencies by Italian broadcasters that is contrary to international agreement.
Cuba - DTT platform to launch in 2014
The official launch of the DTT platform is set to take place in 2014 in all of the regional capitals as well as in several cities with a high population.
A total of 5 million viewers will be able to access the DTT platform by the end of 2014 while full population coverage is expected by 2016.
France - DTT is used in nearly 60% of homes
According to the latest research published by the broadcast regulator CSA, 59.7% of households rely on the DTT platform for their television reception.
DTT is the most widely used television delivery platform. It is used in 52% of homes to access their primary television services. The IPTV platform is used by 33% of households while satellite and cable are used by 13% and 8% of households, respectively.
Kenya - ASO in Nairobi delayed until 6 February
The Court of Appeal of ordered the reinstation of analogue terrestrial television in Nairobi and its surrounding region.
Analogue terrestrial television will remain available for 45 days. This follows analogue switch-off which took place on 26 December and lasted for 16 hours.
Russia - TV-3 awarded DTT license for MUX-2
The Roskomnadzor has announced that the license to provide a television service on MUX 2 has been allocated to TV-3.
TV-3 was one of two applicants for this DTT license which had been made available following the decision of the public service broadcaster RTR to withdraw plans for a sports service. Dozhd (Rain) was the other applicant for the license.
Germany - RTL will remain on DTT platform
In a reversal of its previous position, the commercial broadcaster RTL has indicated that it plans to remain on the DTT platform.
Earlier in the year, RTL had announced that it would exit from the DTT services once its service licenses had expired at the end of 2014.
Portugal - Anacom to measure DTT signal levels
The communications regulator Anacom has announced plans to install a testing equipment to monitor DTT reception.
Initially, the equipment will be installed in four areas by the end of the year. However, Anacom plans to install the monitoring equipment throughout the country although it will focus on areas with highest population densities.