Top sports events must air free: NBTC

Economy November 06, 2012 00:00

By Usanee Mongkolporn
The Nation

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Panel says channels have right to World Cup, Olympics, Asean Games



The broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) gave initial approval yesterday to public hearing results backing the “Must Have” draft regulations. This would make it mandatory for holders of broadcasting rights to seven sports programmes – from the Olympics to the World Cup – to air all of these events on free-TV channels, as well as on their own platforms.

The seven programmes, which are subject to indefinite restriction if or when the regulations are put in place, are the Southeast Asian Games, Asean Para Games, Asian Games, Asian Para Games, Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, and the FIFA World Cup Final.
Broadcasting committee chairman Natee Sukonrat said yesterday that every match in these events would have to be aired on all free-TV channels.
RS, which secured rights to broadcast the 2014 World Cup on its SunBox set-top boxes, may seek to discuss the issue with the committee as the company obtained the rights before the draft regulations were approved.
“I believe RS still has time to adjust its business model for the World Cup broadcast to this draft as the World Cup will not begin until 2014,” Natee said.
Last week, RS – the media rights holder of the FIFA World Cup 2014 – lodged a note of appeal to the NBTC to oppose the “Must Have” rule, which it believes it is impractical and could lead to breaches of copyright law. 
RS chief operating officer Pornpan Techarungchaikul said in a company statement recently that the coming rules should not include a group like RS, that already held rights to broadcast the FIFA World Cup 2014. 
The broadcasting committee will convene to make a final approval of the draft next Monday and submit it for NBTC board to consider on November 14 before its regulations are published in the Royal Gazette. Natee said the committee could expand its list of “Must Have” programmes in the future.
Besides the Must Have draft, the committee also endorsed draft regulations protecting broadcast consumers yesterday.
Earlier, it endorsed Must Carry regulations to guarantee Thais’ the basic right to watch free-TV programmes via any platform, such as antennas and cable and satellite receivers. Under the rule, all broadcasters must understand that radio, television and telecommunications frequencies are considered national resources, so free-to-air TV operators must be responsible for providing public broadcasting services across the country on any platform. Companies holding media rights to such events as the quadrennial Euro soccer tournament must be aware of this regulation before striking any deals with free-TV operators.