Thailand ‘should converge telecoms and media regulation’

Thailand is set to unify its telecoms and broadcasting licensing regime to take account of convergence between the two industries.

Both are regulated by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), but under different laws – dating from 2001 for telecoms and 2007 for broadcasting.

The NBTC is finding it increasingly difficult to decide which law should be applied when broadcasters use mobile broadband or telecoms providers offer internet protocol TV, commissioner Prawit Leesatapornwongsa told the Bangkok Post.

“Without implementing this proposed revamp by 2018, ambiguity in defining innovation types of services will arise, making it more difficult for policymakers to govern,” he told the newspaper.

The NBTC is already undergoing a revamp, via a law likely to be approved early next week and expected to go into law in May. Prawit called for new legislation to unify the 2001 and 2007 laws.

“Having separate, inflexible laws doesn’t match with the era of technological convergence,” he told the Bangkok Post. The existing licensing regime “causes operators to pay double licensing fees, with these costs passed on to consumers”, he added.

The NBTC will be reduced from 11 to seven commissioners under the terms of the law now going through Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly and due for a final reading on 27 March.

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