Thailand: Internet TV Boxes Now Subject to NBTC Licenses
On 25 April 2017, a Notification of the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission on the Manufacture, Importation, Trade or Possession for Trade, or Installation of Internet TV Boxes (the Notification) was published in the Royal Gazette.
The Notification is aimed at regulating and imposing licensing requirements on Internet TV Boxes. Below is a summary of the key points of the Notification.
(1) Types of the Regulated Internet TV Boxes
Internet TV Boxes are now considered to be set-top boxes used to watch television programs of subscription television services which is regulated under section 70 of the Broadcasting Business Act B.E. 2551 (e.g. Media Box, Android Box, Apple TV box, TV Stick, HDMI Dongle, Chromecast, etc. or other similar device), regardless whether that Internet TV Box is programmed to watch subscription television programs or not.
(2) Licensing Requirement
Any person who wishes to manufacture, import, trade, possess for trade, or possess for installation an Internet TV Box or any similar device under (1) must obtain a license from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).
(3) Timeframe for compliance
Any person who manufactures, imports, trades, possesses for trade, or possesses for installation devices under (1) at the time that this Notification was issued and has not obtained a license from the NBTC must obtain a license from the NBTC within 60 days from the issue date of this Notification.
(4) Penalties for non-compliance
After the expiry of 60 days stipulated in (3), a violator would be subject to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 2 years and/or fines not exceeding Baht 2,000,000. The Office of the NBTC will take legal action to the fullest extent of the law.
It is worth noting that it is questionable whether the NBTC has the authority to issue this Notification, whether it falls under the scope of section 70 of the Broadcasting Business Act B.E. 2551 and whether the issuance follows correct legal procedure under Thai law. However, this Notification could be seen as the first step to regulating OTT in Thailand and we expect to see more notifications soon.