SINGAPORE: Despite a high interest in football, Singapore has a small market compared to other countries.
As such, it may not have enough of a subscription or advertising revenue base to offset the costs of acquiring broadcast rights of this year’s World Cup matches.
On top of that, football governing body FIFA has exclusive rights to the broadcast rights, and looks at the purchasing power of each country’s market.
Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong shared this, replying on Monday to parliamentary questions on why prices for viewing this year’s World Cup matches on pay TV have increased significantly.
Mr Wong, who is also Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, said Singapore is unfortunately a price taker in a situation where FIFA has a monopoly over the broadcast rights.
He said acquisition cost of broadcasting the matches has gone up by between 20 and 40 per cent around the world.
But some countries are able to offset that more effectively because they are bigger markets.
He said: “We know from the assessment of the pay TV operators who have been in this business that there is a range which FIFA is looking at in order for us to secure the rights to broadcast the World Cup.
“It’s a narrow range but you need to pay that amount of money in order to get the rights.
“Ironically, the more desperate we are to acquire, the more the rights owner on the other side will feel they have the ability and the leverage to charge us the high price.”
Mr Wong said the government is committed to ensure that key sporting events are available to Singaporeans, beyond pay TV.
Such events are added on the Media Development Authority’s (MDA) anti-siphoning list, and four key World Cup matches are on this list.
Mr Wong also said MDA could look at a suggestion that there be a regulation that requires contracts signed between telcos and content providers be wrapped up 12 months before the staging of an event.
This was a suggestion by MP for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh. Mr Singh said this was done by many other countries.
This could mean lower charges to the public as telcos have a longer lead time in sourcing for more advertising revenue. This would subsidise the cost of acquiring rights to the content.
Mr Wong said the MDA is not opposed to looking at regulation but will apply a cost-benefit analysis to the regulations.
He added a review of the cross-carriage policy will be conducted as part of a larger review of the Media Market Conduct Code later this year.
Editor’s note: Do you accept this explanation? Why is PAP answering for Singtel and Starhub?