NBTC demotes executive over World Cup fiasco
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NBTC demotes executive over World Cup fiasco

Handling of TV broadcast rights for 2022 tournament drew many complaints from operators and viewers

Patrons watch a World Cup football match at a Bangkok bar in November last year. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Patrons watch a World Cup football match at a Bangkok bar in November last year. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has removed Trairat Viriyasirikul as acting secretary-general for failing to enforce rules related to the 2022 World Cup broadcasting rights.

Mr Trairat remains deputy secretary-general of the regulator but will face a disciplinary inquiry in connection with the confusion and complaints that arose during the football tournament last year, said an NBTC source.

Mr Trairat, who is abroad now, told the Bangkok Post that he acknowledged the resolution, which the board passed by a vote of 4-2. He said he was concerned about whether the decision would affect his ability to contend for the secretary-general’s post. He is one of nine applicants for the position, which has been vacant for two years due to lengthy delays in getting a new board up and running.

The board on Friday appointed Poomsisth Mahavessiri, another deputy secretary-general, as acting secretary-general.

The source said a fact-finding committee found that Mr Trairat had failed to enforce some NBTC rules related to broadcasting rights for the sporting event.

The Association of Digital Television Broadcasting in November petitioned the NBTC to ensure fair allocation of World Cup matches for all terrestrial transmission platforms, including digital terrestrial TV broadcasters.

The petition followed complaints from many football fans that they could not watch all the live matches on their internet protocol (IP) TV, internet and mobile platforms.

The NBTC contributed 600 million baht from its broadcasting development fund to help the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) acquire the broadcast rights. The SAT gave True Corporation, which contributed 300 million baht, exclusive rights to show 32 matches of its choosing. True obtained a court injunction to prevent rival IPTV providers from showing any matches.

The NBTC said at the time that not all television providers were given equal opportunities to broadcast all matches of the tournament live under the “must-carry” rule that the regulator oversees.

It has since decided that the “must-carry” rule, originally intended to ensure Thai TV viewers have access to major sporting events, is more trouble than it’s worth and has proposed to scrap it.

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