NBTC intervenes in broadcast row
TrueVisions told not to go dark during Uefa
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has warned TrueVisions not to allow its free-to-air channels to go dark during the European football championship.
Thailand's largest pay-TV operator is responsible for providing uninterrupted service to its customers, said Natee Sukonrat, head of the NBTC's broadcasting committee.
The 2012 Uefa European Football Championship or Euro 2012 begins Friday and runs through July 1.
GMM Grammy, the broadcast rights holder, has said TrueVisions must not air the matches, and TrueVisions may be forced to stop broadcasting on some of its channels when the games are being played.
The NBTC also asked the three free TV channel operators - Channels 3, 5 and 9 - not to discriminate against cable-TV companies in their live broadcasts of the football, saying all operators should have the same rights if they operate under the same conditions.
The NBTC has ordered TrueVisions and the three channels to submit proposals by Friday to end the dispute.
Col Natee said the NBTC asked TrueVisions and the operators of Channels 3, 5 and 9 to engage in dispute resolution before the 24-day tournament kicks off Friday.
All parties will have discussions with the NBTC Thursday to clarify the conditions of their contracts, he said.
Three issues will be covered in the talks - contract conditions between TrueVisions and its subscribers; contracts between free TV operators and local cable-TV operators; and the Euro 2012 contract between free TV channels and GMM Grammy.
Col Natee said the NBTC cannot impose any order on GMM Grammy, as the company is not a licence holder.
TrueVisions welcomed the NBTC's efforts, saying free- and cable-TV operators should be treated equally.
Provincial cable-TV operators, which have broadcasting rights from Grammy, can air the matches.
Viewers wishing to receive the signal from Grammy directly must buy the company's set-top box and connect it to a satellite dish.
Grammy is letting households with conventional antennas watch all the Euro 2012 matches. Its media partners are free-to-air Channels 3, 5 and 9.
However, households that belong to TrueVisions pay-TV network will not be able to watch the matches even though the matches will be aired on the three free TV channels.
The relevant channels on TrueVisions will go dark during the games.
Col Natee said TrueVisions customers should have the right to watch the Euro 2012 championship if upcountry cable-TV customers are allowed to view it.
But he said TrueVisions may have to enter into the same agreement as upcountry cable operators signed with free-TV operators.
Thana Thienachariya, the chief executive of GMM Z, the satellite TV arm of GMM Grammy, said Uefa is the broadcast rights owner, and Grammy is only the broadcast rights holder.
"We have to strictly comply with all conditions and rules under the agreement. Otherwise we might breach the rights," he said.
Mr Thana also said the NBTC should carefully handle this issue as the legal backlash would be substantial.
"We still see True as a friendly competitor. We hope to have future business alliances with it or a possible joint bid for a broadcast licence for the English Premier League," said Mr Thana.
By Komsan Tortermvasana
07 June 2012