World Cup cut from NBTC rule
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World Cup cut from NBTC rule

A 2022 World Cup match is broadcast at a bar in the Khao San Road area. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A 2022 World Cup match is broadcast at a bar in the Khao San Road area. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution to remove the World Cup football tournament from its "must have" rule, effective immediately.

The move follows a public hearing last year regarding possible confusion over whether the regulator would remove the seven major sports competitions listed under the rule.

In effect since 2012, the must have rule requires companies holding the broadcast rights for seven major sporting events -- the Fifa World Cup, Southeast Asian Games, Asean Para Games, Asian Games, Asian Para Games, Olympic Games and Paralympic Games -- to allow the programming to air on free TV channels.

The "must carry" rule, in effect since 2013, requires programmes aired on free TV to be broadcast on any platform without conditions, including satellite and internet protocol TV (IPTV) platforms.

The World Cup is a highly commercial event that attracts viewers globally every four years, said NBTC chairman Dr Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck.

Fifa conditions state that companies that hold the rights to broadcast the World Cup must broadcast a minimum of 200 hours of football programmes on public TV in the country where the copyright holder is located.

Dr Sarana said the removal of the World Cup from the must have rule paves the way for the NBTC to consider adjusting the rule's conditions in the future.

An NBTC source who requested anonymity said the recent move represents a U-turn from a previous resolution in March 2023 when the NBTC board agreed in principle to remove all conditions of the must have rule where existing definitions cover the seven major sports competitions.

The NBTC board's move to amend the rule was delayed from the end of the 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar.

In November 2022, the NBTC contributed 600 million baht to help the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) come up with the 1.4 billion baht required to pay for the broadcasting rights for the 2022 World Cup.

Allocation of the matches later led to conflicts between the NBTC and the SAT.

The match allocation also created conflicts between True Corporation, a major sponsor behind the purchase of the broadcasting rights, and the Association of Digital Television Broadcasting, as well as IPTV operators.

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