NBTC panel to study how to regulate Netflix, Iflix, Primetime and other OTT operators

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THE BOARD of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunica-tions Commission yesterday resolved to regard the delivery of over-the-top (OTT) content as radio and TV broadcasting, said Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC broadcasting committee.

The board also resolved to assign Natee to set up a subcommittee to advise the broadcasting committee and the NBTC on how to regulate the OTT industry.

He said that as the subcommittee had yet to start working, it was too early to say what requirements it would recommend for OTT operators, such as whether they would have to apply licences.

When asked if this reflects the NBTC’s attempt to regulate OTT content, he said there had yet to be talks on that issue.

Natee will set up the subcommittee this week. The sub-panel, which he will chair, will have a one-year term.

OTT is the delivery of content such as films and TV programmes to viewers via the Internet, either free or for a charge. Some digital-TV broadcasters recently complained that besides facing tough competition among themselves, they have also experienced mounting competition from OTT operators, which have lower operating costs.

Earlier the NBTC hired Time Consulting to study how to regulate OTT TV operators. The study recommended that the commission register OTT TV operators and issue them licences at a later date. The operators should be treated like all broadcasters under the NBTC’s licensing regime, Time Consulting said.

The NBTC should also regulate OTT content through the ratings system and promote Thai content, it said.

According to the Time Consulting study, OTT operators broadcast on free platforms such as YouTube and Line TV, as do digital TV stations such as Channels 3, 7, 8 and Workpoint. Their programmes earn income from advertising.

Paid-platform OTT operators include Netflix, Iflix, Primetime, Advanced Info Service’s AIS Play, and TrueVisions’ Anywhere.

OTT service got off the ground in Thailand three years ago.

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