State agencies now embroiled in World Cup broadcast rights saga
The controversy following Thailand’s last-minute acquisition of broadcast rights for the Fifa World Cup 2022 has not only triggered a clash between broadcasters but could also lead to a showdown between two state agencies.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Tuesday sent a written request to the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) seeking the return of its 600-million baht contribution towards the 1.2-billion-baht fund for the purchase of broadcast rights from football’s world governing body.
The NBTC move came after subscribers to the IPTV cable service were prevented from viewing live broadcasts of World Cup matches from Qatar.
The telecom watchdog, which accused the SAT of failing to follow their agreement on the World Cup 2022 broadcasts, demanded a return of the money within 15 days along with interest in case of delay.
The regulating agency had ruled that IPTV subscribers, like viewers of free television, are also eligible for World Cup live broadcasts under the NBTC’s “must-carry” rule applied to all broadcasters for major sporting events.
In response to the NBTC’s decision, True Corporation, which contributed 300 million baht to the pooled fund, took its case to the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, asking for an injunction on live broadcasts through IPTV’s cable system. The request was granted.
Later, Super Broadband Network Co Ltd (SBN), which is part of the IPTV transmission system, asked the court to review its injunction, arguing that the broadcasters in their group were properly following the law involved and would abide by the NBTC’s relevant decision.
SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee said on Thursday that his agency had not yet received the letter from the NBTC. He added, however, that the SAT would follow a court verdict in the case filed by SBN.
“The SAT signed a memorandum of understanding with True because the company contributed as much as 300 million baht to buy the World Cup broadcast rights. The SAT had asked private businesses to join in, but True made the highest contribution,” Kongsak argued.