News Column

NCPO seeks fund transfer from NBTC

June 17, 2014

By Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn, Bangkok Post, Thailand

June 17--The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is floating an idea to the telecom regulator that revenue from the digital TV auctions be transferred to government coffers.

Revenue from the auctions now goes into the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research and Development Fund for the Public Interest (BTFP).

The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) suggested the junta consider this issue as it claims that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) did not efficiently manage the fund.

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said the regulator told the NCPO it would agree to transfer 50 billion baht in revenue from digital TV auctions to the government on the condition the OAG oversees the digital TV subsidy coupon scheme.

Digital TV auctions generated 50 billion baht in revenue for a 15-year licence. The BTFP has already received 11 billion baht, and the remainder will be paid by 24 digital TV channels later.

The NCPO announced last Saturday that every megaproject must inform it of its transparent budget approvals and allocations. But the BTFP is different from other independent agencies in that it can approve budget allocations itself.

Mr Takorn said the NBTC had three megaprojects this year worth more than 85 billion baht total. The first is the 900- and 1800-megahertz frequency band auctions for fourth-generation (4G) mobile service worth 40 billion baht in August.

After the 4G auctions, there will be 4G-related investment by private telecom firms of up to 150 billion baht.

The second project is the universal service obligation fund's four-year time frame to provide basic communications infrastructure nationwide worth 20 billion baht.

Only two provinces have received budget approval under this project.

The last is the 25-billion-baht digital TV subsidy voucher scheme.

The NBTC said it would finalise the process tomorrow of voucher distribution regardless of whether a public hearing on the matter was needed.


(c)2014 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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