QUEK SOO BENG: MDA should explain why other nations can charge lower prices for World Cup

To end the controversy over World Cup pricing here, the Media Development Authority should, most importantly, explain how and why other football-crazy countries are able to view the tournament on free-to-air and/or pay-television at a fraction of the cost charged in Singapore.

It has been reported that the next-highest price being charged elsewhere is about half the price here.

All countries, regardless of size or wealth, are price-takers from FIFA. However, except for Singapore, they are able to achieve more reasonable prices.

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Additionally, many countries in the region and many first-world countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, will have the World Cup on free-to-air television.

Otherwise, the MDA’s response in its letter “MDA can’t strong-arm content providers to agree to set price” (April 28) would ring hollow to unhappy football fans.

I find it ironic and bewildering that an industry regulator is defending a commercial enterprise’s interests and aggressive business strategem over the interests of consumers.

There is still time for the authorities to consider mutually acceptable, non-strong-arm solutions that have been suggested in the media.

The World Cup has a high advertising value. MediaCorp, for example, could barter advertising money earned during the matches on national TV for more free-to-air coverage. SingTel gets compensated and government funding is avoided.

QUEK SOO BENG

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