TDRI Criticizes NBTC’s Decision on Dtac-True Planned Merger

Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI)’s president Somkiat Tangkitvanich has criticized a Thai regulator’s decision regarding the planned merger between True Corporation and Total Access Communication (Dtac).

Mr. Somkiat said the merger, “acknowledged” by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), would only hurt consumers and lead to more monopolies.

The comments came after the five NBTC members voted 3:2 to recognize the two companies’ plan to merge with conditions added.

The regulator, which spent over 10 hours discussing the scope of its authority to support a merger plan, has insisted that it does not have the power to approve the move but can set some conditions.

During the meeting, the NBTC discussed five points of concern and related measures. Unions from state-owned companies, consumer protection groups and civic bodies gathered at the regulator’s office to voice their opposition to the plan, saying it could lead to unfair competition and market control.

However, the parties involved were not happy with the decision. According to the Thai Consumer Council (TCC), the NBTC only acknowledged the merger and failed to exercise its power.

Mr. Somkiat also criticized the result, describing most MBTC members’ decision as a “disgrace.”

“The NBTC intended to curb its own power and failed to carry out its duties in line with the law. This will cause serious damage to the public as it will only increase the monopoly in the mobile phone industry,” he wrote through his official Facebook account.

Academic studies have shown that consumers could be forced to pay up to 244% higher service fees if the two remaining mobile operators after the merger collude on prices, he added.

Mr. Somkiat also said that GDP would be reduced by 0.5-0.6% as a result and insisted that, by the Administrative Court’s determination, the NBTC had the legal authority to approve or reject the merger.

The TDRI’s president also supported the TCC’s decision to request the Administrative Court to issue an injunction against the plan. In addition, the council hopes to ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission to determine whether there was negligence by the NBTC over the merger.