NBTC demands return of THB600m it gave to SAT for World Cup broadcast rights
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) voted unanimously on Thursday to demand that the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) repay the 600 million baht it had provided the agency for purchase of Fifa World Cup broadcasting rights, a news source said.
The source said the telecom watchdog commissioners agreed that the SAT had violated the conditions regarding broadcast of the World Cup being held in Qatar since November. Under the NBTC’s ‘must-have’ rule, several key sporting events, including the Fifa World Cup finals, must be made available on free television.
Thailand’s plan to acquire the World Cup broadcasting rights had a troubled start, as the NBTC’s contribution was not enough to purchase the broadcast rights, which was priced at 1.4 billion baht. This forced the SAT, an agency responsible for purchasing the broadcast rights of sporting events, to enter into a deal with telecom company True Corporation for funding support.
Under the contract, True contributed 300 million baht to the SAT in exchange for exclusive rights to broadcast 32 matches on its ITPV and online platform, while leaving terrestrial TV broadcasting free for other channels. This has resulted in users of IPTV of operators other than True being unable to watch the matches, effectively violating the NBTC ‘must-have’ rule that aims to make sport programmes available to all people, said the source.
The source added that NBTC would give the SAT 15 days to return the money from the day it receives the notification, and the agency would be charged interest at 5% interest per year in case of delayed payment.
Meanwhile, SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee told The Nation on Thursday that the agency had not violated any conditions and that the broadcast of World Cup 2022 was already available to all people on free TV, in adherence to the “must-have” rule.
He said he had dispatched an explanatory letter to the NBTC as soon as he became aware of its resolution.
Kongsak clarified that users of some IPTV boxes could not watch the games because of a dispute between True and other operators that requires a court ruling. He said it had nothing to do with the SAT, which had already fulfilled its duty of disseminating broadcast signals received from the licensor via various channels, including terrestrial TV, IPTV, and other platforms.