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FTA Thai stations kick-start digital; three more may go HD by January

Three free-to-air (FTA) TV stations in Thailand began digital broadcasting trials yesterday after signing of the memorandum of understanding with regulators, reports.

The Royal Thai Army, the operator of TV5; MCOT Plc, the operator of Modernine TV; and the Public Relations Department, which runs the NBT channel (Channel 11), signed the agreement with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to broadcast programmes in high definition (HD) via digital terrestrial TV.

All FTA TV stations can broadcast in HD on a trial basis for a renewable six-month term. Initially, the trial will cover Bangkok and nearby provinces. NBT will also broadcast digitally in Chiang Mai.

In another development, the NBTC said it was prioritising the granting of digital terrestrial network-provider licences to TV5, MCOT and NBT, as they already had their own broadcasting networks and spectra before the 2008 Radio and Television Broadcasting Business Act.

Based on its regulations on licensing for network providers and spectrum holders for digital TV, the broadcaster with the highest coverage rate in the first year would be the first to win a digital terrestrial broadcasting licence.