22nd JAMCO Online International Symposium
March to December, 2014
The Internet and TV Stations in the Asia-Pacific Region
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Comment on paper
"The Utilization of the Internet by TV Stations in Thailand"
In this symposium, I would like to share my opinion on the paper from Thailand written by Sasiphan Bilmanoch, "The Utilization of the Internet by TV Stations in Thailand". In the paper, Bilmanoch shows a very clear picture of current television broadcasting (Analog Terrestrial TV, Digital Terrestrial TV, Satellite TV, Cable TV, IPTV, and Mobile TV) in Thailand and its future trend. She explains the evolution of internet used by free TV and the growth of IPTV and gives two concrete examples of the Modernnine and the Voice TV. The paper also anticipates the trend of Internet used by TV stations and the growth of IPTV.
Internet is a human artifact that changes the way of life enormously. With the advance of ICT integration and its connection worldwide, the world becomes a global village. People/audiences on the globe can access information anytime and anywhere.
As internet technology especially search engines are widely spread and used and become common instruments for communication, audience can easily and conveniently be senders/receivers, to share, send, receive, store, retrieve and transmit information from one point to another at their finger tips. A vivid case in point is the widespread of YouTube. As a result, the trend of Internet used by TV Stations in Thailand has been growing up rapidly.
Bilmanoch reported that behavior of Internet users increased from 18 hours per week in 2001 to 32 hours per week in 2013. The order of frequency counts by media from high to low is computer, followed by TV, radio and print respectively. However, the number of users have an access to Internet is not yet wide enough due mainly to IT infrastructure constraints and high cost of access to Internet.
To speed up and expand telecommunication system in Thailand, the government of NBTC (National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission) has written three master plans: (1) the Master Plan in Radio Frequency Management (2012); (2) the Master Plan in Radio and Television Broadcasting, 2012-2016; and (3) the Master Plan in Telecommunication Affairs, 2012-2016. One of the major tasks is to transform the analog terrestrial TV system to totally digital system. One of the key strategies is that ‘households in big cities are capable of receiving digital audio broadcasting and television broadcasting counting for 80 percent or more within 5 years.’ So far, NBTC has been distributing digital transmission signal boxes (set top boxes) to households, but there exists problem of universal coverage of users and the efficiency of such boxes.
Moreover, in order to go ahead with this transformation, NBTC as yet has opened tender on frequency for digital system Television and has licensed out 24 national digital TV channels, 14 licenses for general content channels, 7 for features news and document, and 3 for children, youth and family content channels.(according to the First Radio and Television Broadcasting Master Plan).
One of the issues emerging and interesting to share is ethics. Once using Internet, it means, content is easily rebroadcasted, retransmitted and shared. The principle of ethics is very crucial. If the use is for the benefits of public or for charity or for academic, such use or reuse of media should be free with (no infringement of owner’s copyright) permission of the owner. For commercial purpose, users are subject to legal binding to pay for copyright.
In the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) Convention 2013, entitled ‘Change is ON THE AIR’ in Hong Kong, experts in TV programs and Internet expressed their interesting views, for example, as follows:
Peter Giakoumelos*1, VP, Advertising Sales, Discovery Network Asia Pacific, advised not to restrict on content delivery to a few platforms:"Today, the media landscape is diverse and redefined. All we have done is to satisfy curiosity, and provide the highest quality content that entertains, engages and enlightens."
Acknowledging YouTube’s impact, Brian Lau*2, VP, Content & Communication, FOX International Channels said, "the vast amount of illegal content on YouTube and elsewhere online has made it difficult to monetize original content." He also added that "the audience needs to be educated to value content….."
Jeremy Carr*3, VP, Digital & Syndication, Turner International Asia Pacific said, many traditional broadcasters no longer view YouTube as a threat. "We have to try anything available, and understand our audience, our content and market dynamics,"
The Internet use by Thai television has already started. TV stations certainly push forward to use Internet technology. But in case of Thailand, there is still gaps among citizens with regard to the levels of education, occupation, income and accessibility of Internet which takes time to narrow down in the period of transition.
As Bilmanoch concluded in her paper, in the midst of industry expansion, the extent of the use of Internet media by Thai television stations is unclear. The issues of currently low audience awareness, increasingly accessible options and rapid uptake of mobile devices combined, mean that there is potential for huge expansion of Internet TV in Thailand. However, limitations of infrastructure and still high cost of use are medium-term challenges.
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Mass Communication Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, Thailand.