Court orders NBTC to return bank guarantees worth 1.75 billion baht to Thai TV

Loss-ridden Thai TV company won a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission after the Administrative Court ordered the broadcasting regulator to return bank guarantees worth 1,750 million baht to the digital TV operator.

Thai TV company

Thai TV company filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Court challenging the NBTC’s order in 2016 revoking its licenses to use its frequency and to operate its television business and to pay license fees as illegitimate.

The company claimed it had already paid the license fees to the NBTC before it decided to end its broadcasting operations.
The court ruled that Thai TV had the right to revoke its license because the regulator failed to expand broadcasting network as promised and also it had belatedly distributed digital TV coupons to the consumers causing damage to the digital TV broadcaster.

Hence, the court ordered the NBTC to return bank guarantees for the 3rd up to 6th instalments of license fee worth a total of 1,750 million baht to Thai TV. But the court dismissed Thai TV’s demand for the return of the first and second instalments of the license fee plus damage worth altogether 700 million baht reasoning that the digital TV operator had already been operating for some time like the other operators.

Thai TV proprietor Mrs Panthipa Kritsakulchai

Thai TV proprietor Mrs Panthipa Kritsakulchai said she was satisfied with the court’s ruling, noting that she believed the ruling would set a precedent for the other digital TV operators to shut down their operations.

As for the first and second instalments for the license fee, she said she would appeal the court’s ruling to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Mr Sombat Leelapata, director of the legal affairs of NBTC, said he would appeal the ruling regarding the return of the bank guarantees to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Because of the court’s ruling, he said that, in future biddings for broadcasting licenses, the NBTC might require the successful bidders to pay the full amount of the license fee instead of allowing them to pay in instalments.

In this case, he said the court felt that the TV operator should pay NBTC for the period it made use of the frequency and not the whole amount of license fee for the whole period of the license.

Sombat pointed out that Thai TV claimed expansion of broadcasting network by the Public Relations Department was delayed, causing damage to the company whereas, in reality, Thai TV did not use the PRD’s network, but the network of Thai PBS, an independent public broadcaster.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tanthasit, meanwhile, said the court’s ruling would be a way out for digital TV operators to return their licenses to the NBTC as they would not want to continue operating.