iTV could be in for a wallop
iTV may have to pay retrospective concession fees to the government to the tune of Bt1.3 billion to Bt1.4 billion if the Central Administrative Court rules that the discount the television station has been enjoying on the levy is invalid, according to Niwathawong Boonsongpaisarn, chairman of the iTV executive committee.
Commenting for the first time on the impending May 9 court ruling, Niwathawong said that the calculation of the retrospective costs was based on the difference between the discounted fee the station pays and what it would have been charged had it not received the rate cut.
He refuted rumours that Temasek Holdings, which recently bought Shin Corp, had asked Shin to sell its iTV shares.
"I have never heard that, and Shin has not decided what to do with the remaining shares," Niwathawong said.
Critics have assailed iTV over its shareholding structure and the concession fee, which was reduced after the Shinawatra family purchased it in 2004.
First of all, it is unclear if iTV is still a Thai entity. Under the Constitution, foreigners are not allowed to own more than 50 per cent of a broadcasting business, but Singapore-based Temasek owns 92 per cent of Shin, which in turn owns 53 per cent of iTV.
Moreover, if the court rules on May 9 that iTV must resume paying the original concession fee and if it forces the station to adhere to its original content requirements, iTV might see sharp losses, analysts have said.
Yesterday iTV's share price closed at Bt7.80, a drop of Bt0.30 from the previous close.