HONG KONG — The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia has slammed Thailand’s pay TV sector for its lack of development and slow pace of reform.

“Thailand should have a far more robust pay TV market given its population, GDP, level of entertainment consumption and the maturity of the advertising industry,” said Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies.

In a report published Wednesday, the industry org said Thailand’s pay TV penetration at only 14% of Thai TV households is “relatively low compared with other Asian markets.”

Issues that need to be fixed before the sector can grow include widespread signal theft and a regulatory environment that permits unlicensed operators in the provinces.

Another major drag has been lack of advertising. Pay TV sector is not allowed to carry local advertising.

“The Thai government has only given tacit approval for pass-through, non-domestic pay TV advertising, while privately owned pay TV operators at this time cannot carry any domestic advertising at all,” says the report. Casbaa says this has discouraged media from investing in and developing the country’s pay TV sector.

Casbaa, however, sounds an optimistic note, suggesting that regulatory change will be possible, with the recent parliamentary approval of a broadcasting bill.

“We look forward to having a licensing regime established for all pay TV operators and further development of the market in Thailand.”

Of late, Thailand’s free-to-air sector has gathered more headlines as courts and government moved to outlaw iTV, one of the few nets not controlled by the state. Channel is now in the process of being converted into a new pubcaster (Daily Variety, Jan. 21).