SAT seeking lower rate for World Cup broadcast

SAT seeking lower rate for World Cup broadcast

Time running out as authorities scramble for funds to ensure all matches can be viewed locally

People walk past World Cup banners at a beach in Doha, Qatar, where the World Cup will open on Nov 20. (AFP photo)
People walk past World Cup banners at a beach in Doha, Qatar, where the World Cup will open on Nov 20. (AFP photo)

The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) says it’s trying its best to negotiate with Fifa to lower the price of the rights for Thailand to broadcast live World Cup 2022 matches.

With just 10 days to go until the opening kickoff of the football spectacle, Thailand is one of the few countries not to have arranged for the matches to be televised.

SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee said on Thursday that the price quoted in the last negotiation with Fifa was 1.6 billion baht, while only 600 million baht was approved by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) on Wednesday.

Subsequently, the SAT is exploring ways to find additional funds to finance the purchase of the rights, Mr Kongsak said.

“We contacted both Fifa and its agent last night and told them frankly that the NBTC had agreed to give us only this amount of money. So, we asked them to lower the price more,” he said.

The SAT has only recently stepped in to negotiate with Fifa after several companies tried unsuccessfully to strike a deal with the world football body, because the state agency is prohibited by law from competing with businesses to obtain any sports event broadcasting rights, he said.

Asked why the SAT didn’t use the money from the National Sports Development Fund to fund the rights purchase, he said the allocation of about 5 billion baht in the total budget for this fiscal year has already been planned and changing it would take too long.

Mr Kongsak said the SAT is now in talks with potential private-sector partners.

“It remains uncertain how much money [to jointly fund the purchase of the rights] can be sourced from several private companies with whom we’re in talks,” he said. “I cannot reveal the amount of any money currently being discussed.”

Asked what chance World Cup fans in Thailand still have to watch free broadcasts, he said: “We will try our best. I couldn’t rate it in terms of a percentage.

“And all I can say now is the money we have in hand is insufficient. So, we have to find private partners.”

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has stood firm on his stance that free live broadcasting of the World Cup will not only benefit the country’s sports fans but also help boost the economy, said Mr Kongsak.

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