The ability to remain independent of influence by the military, politicians and the private sector is seen as a critical quality of the new board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) as recruitment proceeds.

Such independence will ensure that regulation and policies handed down by the NBTC will benefit society amid technological disruption, according to yesterday’s “The NBTC That We Want” seminar.

The event was hosted by NBTC Policy Watch in collaboration with the Association of Confederation of Consumer Organization and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association.

Suphap Kleekachai, president of the Association of Digital TV Operators, said the existing organisational structure and management under the 2017 constitution is at risk of domination by the upper reaches of the government.

The designated legal expert of the NBTC board will be a member of the National Digital Economy Committee (NDEC) now chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Takorn Tantasith, the outgoing NBTC secretary-general, is an NDEC member.

Mr Suphap said it was doubtful that even the existing NBTC board or the now-defunct National Telecommunication Commission were free of government intervention.

“The type of NBTC we need is one that doesn’t have a negative attitude towards communication businesses,” he said.

Mr Suphap said the board’s new members must also have a good grasp of fast-changing communications technology.

He urged the new NBTC to keep abreast of the current crisis of digital TV operators, rather than focusing on creating a new regulatory framework.

Saree Aongsomwang, general secretary of the Foundation for Consumers, said practical measures are needed to resolve the problems of telecom and broadcasting services after the existing NBTC failed to handle them.

“We are surprised that the top complaints of consumers are still basic problems such as annoying SMS messages and the uncomfortable process when consumers need number portability,” Mrs Saree said.

She said the foundation wants the new NBTC to solve these chronic problems.

“We need to see a process to settle each complaint within 30 days,” she said.

Addition, Mrs Saree said it has yet had real competition in telecom business especially mobile service that are dominated by the big three players.

Worapoj Wongkitrungruang, an academic from NBTC Policy Watch, said the commission has failed to recall the existing unused spectrum of many state agencies for reallocation to benefit the public, particularly radio frequencies now held by army units.

News Reporter

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