SAT warns NBTC: Dialogue or court
Body loath to return B600m for Cup rights
The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) has challenged the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to seek a court ruling to settle a dispute over the funding of the rights to broadcast Fifa World Cup 2022 final matches.
On Thursday, the NBTC demanded the SAT return the 600 million baht granted to it to fund the acquisition of the broadcasting rights.
The NBTC alleged that the SAT had breached a memorandum of understanding signed upon the NBTC's granting of the 600-million-baht subsidy to the SAT to buy the World Cup broadcasting rights, which cost around 1.4 billion baht.
According to an informed source, the rest of the funding came from private parties including True Corporation, which had provided the SAT with a 300-million-baht sponsorship.
The SAT's recent decision to pull the plug on IPTV services in broadcasting the World Cup is deemed a violation of the NBTC's "must-carry" rule, which is stated in the MoU as a requirement for the NBTC's provision of the 600-million-baht fund to the SAT, said the source.
SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee said on Friday that if the NBTC wants the SAT to return the 600 million baht, the matter may have to go to court.
"But we don't want the issue to reach that point because both are state agencies. There should be a better solution. We should be able to sit down for talks. The SAT is ready to explain things," Mr Kongsak said.
Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck, chairman of the NBTC board, said seeking a court ruling should be a last resort.
He said if the SAT does not return the money within 15 days, the SAT could revoke the MoU reached on Nov 19 with True Corp to let more people watch the football matches.
Mr Kongsak previously said the SAT would not return the 600 million baht, adding it has fully complied with the "must-carry" rule while ensuring all viewers have free access to watch the games, a key requirement under the NBTC's associated "must-have" rule.
He said the court ruling related to a legal dispute between Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS) and True Corp stated the broadcasting of World Cup matches on free TV channels other than the IPTV service can be counted as compliance with the must-carry rule.