NBTC to do a U-turn on OTT category

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has been forced to back down from its highly publicised battle to try to censor, control and tax streaming content over the internet.

The telecom regulator will once again retreat from the over-the-top regulatory framework it proposed earlier, doing a U-turn on the categorisation of OTT video-on-demand services as a broadcast business.

"Video-on-demand on OTT platforms is not a broadcast business," ACM Thares Punsri, chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), told the Bangkok Post, marking a radical departure from previous resolutions.

The latest move means the NBTC is again backing down from the OTT regulatory framework it proposed in April.

ACM Thares said that considering video-on-demand services as broadcast business obstructs the working process of the new regulatory framework.

OTT regulations are one of the top items on the agenda of a board meeting to be held today, he said.

The U-turn is to ease the way for a new regulatory framework for OTT.

"OTT is a digital application or service that is operated on an internet network, similar to the add-on digital application, and it's unjustified to be included in broadcast business," ACM Thares said, adding that it would also be improper to have OTT operators focus solely on video-on-demand services.

He said the board meeting will hear an update on the progress of the new OTT regulatory framework.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last month told the NBTC to work on the OTT regulation framework based on consideration of impacts and benefits to the business and the country. Any resolutions should concern innovative services and fair competition, Gen Prayut said.

The rise of OTT, and online video and TV in particular, has created challenges for regulators over how to set policy governing content and operations.

A source in the industry said global OTT platform providers have pressured the government for months through their local affiliates and the US-Asean Business Council.

The 30-year-old council represents more than 140 US corporations, including Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.

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