Thailandís four state-run media agencies operating a free-to-air TV analogue will be allowed to continue broadcasting for the next 5 years by the National Broadcasting Committee (NBC).
The three agencies are the Royal Thai Army which operates TV Channel 5, MCOT (Channel 9), the Public Relations Department (Channel 11) and Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS). Their licenses will be extended to the four broadcasters after approval by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Committee (NBTC). The Royal Thai Army must submit a plan to transform Channel 5 into a public TV station under Category II which emphasize national security while Channel 11 will come under Category III, providing public information.
The two agencies are given five years for the transformation before heading towards digital TV broadcasting. The ThaiPBS license is due to expire on April 17, 2014 after which the NBC will allow an annual extension. Channel 9, operated by MCOT Plc, will become a commercial free-to-air TV station, subjected to apply for a digital public TV license similar to other privately-owned broadcasters. It is not required to submit an analogue transformation plan as in the cases of Channel 5 and Channel 11. The concessions to operate Channel 3, owned by MCOT, will expire in 2020, and Channel 7, owned by the Royal Thai Army, will end in 2022.
However, BEC World and Bangkok Broadcasting and TV (BBTV), which operate Channel 3 and Channel 7 respectively, have applied for digital TV licenses. They are permitted to broadcast their programs on both analogue and digital terrestrial systems in parallel, or simulcast broadcasting. The NBC also allowed Channel 5, Channel 9, Channel 11 and ThaiPBS to operate digital TV networks for 15 years, while fees will be set later.