Channels Complain World Cup TV Rights Allocation “Unfair”

On Monday, representatives of the Association of Digital Television Broadcasting (ADTEB) protested against the allocation of the World Cup matches live broadcasts by the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), saying it had been “unfair.”

The ADTEB filed its complaint with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on behalf of the 34 channels it represents.

According to spokesperson Adisak Limprungpattanakit, the association opposed SAT’s decision to allow True4U to broadcast 32 of the Qatar 2022 World Cup’s 64 matches.

Mr. Adisak explained that the allocation was against NBTC’s request that the authority gives equal broadcast access to all national digital TV operators.

It was one of the requirements that the telecom regulator set when it gave SAT 600 million to help it buy the rights to broadcast the sporting event in Thailand, he added.

True4U’s owner, True Corporation, gave 300 million baht to buy the rights to FIFA, which asked Thailand to pay 1.1 billion baht to grant broadcasting permissions. However, the company has already picked out the biggest matches, reflecting a lack of access and inequality, Mr. Adisak went on.

On Sunday, SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee claimed that the authority’s allocation of matches to each channel had been fair.

Mr. Kongsak explained that True Corporation had been eligible to receive most of the rights as a major sponsor that helped finance the matches’ broadcasts for free in Thailand.

In addition, the SAT governor insisted that the authority had done everything possible to ensure that the decision on which channels would broadcast how many matches had been based on fairness and transparency.

“It is normal for a TV channel, which is the sponsor, to get the rights to broadcast more matches [than other channels]. I am confident we have considered the matter carefully,” Mr. Kongsak stated.

The SAT reached an agreement with FIFA to pay 1.1 billion baht, equivalent to 33 million dollars, for the rights to broadcast the World Cup matches in Thailand after negotiating the first quote (1.6 billion baht).

Mr. Kongsak said the price was reasonable, adding that the broadcasts would boost restaurants and other businesses, generating up to 40 billion baht in cash flow during the tournament.

However, ADTEB secretary Dew Waratangtragoon wrote a message on Facebook saying that he disagreed with the conditions set by the SAT.

Mr. Waratangtragoon, who is also an executive at One 31, one of the free channels that will broadcast the matches, said NBTC’s 600-million-baht contribution was aimed at ensuring all channels had equal access to the games.

The ADTEB secretary also questioned why True4U had more privileges than NBTC, which paid a larger sum to fund the rights.