SAT defends broadcasting rights allocation as 'fair'
Kongsak Yodmanee, governor of the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), insists that its allocation of rights for channels to broadcast football World Cup matches is fair.
A major sponsor that is helping fund the national broadcasts of games for free is eligible to receive the lion's share of the rights, he said on Sunday.
Mr Kongsak was responding to the Association of Digital Television Broadcasting (ADTEB) move to petition the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) over the matter.
The association wants to look into whether SAT's decision to allow True4U, a digital TV channel owned by True Corporation, to broadcast 32 of all 64 World Cup matches is in line with the NBTC's "equal access" policy. True4U is among several sponsors that are helping fund the broadcasting rights.
Mr Kongsak said SAT has tried its best to ensure fairness and transparency in deciding which channels broadcast how many matches.
"It is normal for a TV channel, which is the sponsor, to get the rights to broadcast more matches [than other channels]," he said. "I am confident we have considered the matter carefully."
He said the price of US$33 million (1.1 billion baht) for broadcasting rights in Thailand is reasonable, adding the live broadcasts of World Cup matches will help boost several businesses, such as restaurants, which are expected to generate a cash flow of up to 40 billion baht during the tournament.
On Thursday, the SAT clinched a deal with Fifa to pay US$33 million for the right to broadcast live all 64 matches of the World Cup 2022.
The price was first quoted at 1.6 billion baht when the SAT secured only 600 million baht for the rights last Monday from the NBTC.
Dew Waratangtragoon, ADTEB secretary and One 31 channel executive, one of 17 free digital TV channels that will be allowed to broadcast World Cup matches, wrote on Facebook that it disagrees with the conditions set by the SAT.
He said the sum of 600 million baht from the NBTC is intended to ensure all digital TV channels have an equal share of the broadcast matches.
"The SAT has found additional sponsors [to help fund the rights]. One channel [True4U] paid 300 million baht and sought the exclusive right to choose the matches it wants to broadcast first," he said.
"Why does the channel have more privileges than the NBTC, which paid 600 million baht? This may not be in line with the NBTC's intention for equal access."