While MCOT is trying to resolve the issue, the telecom regulator plans to send a letter next Monday to inform satellite and cable TV operators to drop Channel 3 from their platforms within 15 days.
Bangkok Entertainment Co, a subsidiary of BEC World Plc, which holds the Channel 3 concession, has not complied with the amended must-carry rule by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which ended its free-TV status on Monday of this week.
It still airs its programmes as usual on every platform — terrestrial, satellite and cable — claiming the 27th announcement by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on May 24 allows it to do so.
Paiboon Amornpinyokeat, a legal adviser to Bangkok Entertainment, said if Channel 3 brought all content to air digitally, it would violate its concession with MCOT, which is said to cover only analogue terrestrial broadcasting.
Moreover, migrating content to the digital terrestrial platform would result in legal complications, as BEC World uses different entities to hold digital TV licences while the analogue TV concession is under Bangkok Entertainment.
If Channel 3 does the simulcast, it will have to shoulder additional costs, particularly taxes caused by content trade between companies under the umbrella of BEC World.
"Channel 3 wants the telecom regulator to be a middleman in negotiations between our team and MCOT to revise the concession," said Mr Paiboon.
MCOT executive vice-president Pholchai Vinijchaikul said the company was pleased to have jointly solved the problem with Channel 3, which claimed its broadcast problems came mainly from the strict concession.
Before the concession can be revised, it must receive approval from the Public-Private Partnership Committee.
Mr Pholchai said Channel 3 should respectfully comply with the new regulations, as it had been a good concessionaire for more than three decades.
Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, said the committee would not submit a letter to the NCPO requesting it solve the regulatory conflicts with the NCPO's 27th announcement.
It is giving Channel 3 an opportunity to come up with its own solution to the problem, he said.
Justice Minister Paiboon Khumchaya, who is also the head of the NCPO's legal and justice affairs, yesterday said the NCPO's announcements had nothing to do with TV frequency management, and the NBTC had its own role to play in resolving the problem.
Channel 3 should next Monday present its own proposal to the NBTC regarding how it wants to resolve the controversial broadcast case, he said.
The channel issued a statement yesterday assuring viewers they could still view the programming via satellite, cable and analogue terrestrial systems.
Analogue broadcasting will continue until the concession ends in 2020.
It said it fully supported the country's digital transition and did not want it delayed, as reflected by the three digital TV licences it was granted.
The company also outlined a long-term plan for digital TV channels. Channel 13 Family will be reserved for informative content for children and families.
Standard-definition Channel 28 is reserved for growing business in the future, while high-definition (HD) Channel 33 will be reserved for the present channel, which will end its concession in six years.
Currently, it is developing an HD channel featuring live broadcasts of sporting events.
Surin Krittayapongpan, an executive vice-president of BEC-World, said Channel 3 planned to migrate digitally in the next two or three years once the digital network had expanded nationwide.
MCOT shares closed yesterday on the SET at 25 baht, down 25 satang, in trade worth 13.8 million baht.