SINGAPORE: Football fans will soon be able to catch the Barclays Premier League (BPL) "live" matches on both SingNet and StarHub platforms.
Singapore's Media Development Authority (MDA) has asked pay TV retailer SingNet to cross-carry the matches over the next three seasons, starting from 2013/2014.
This means SingNet will have to offer the BPL matches on rival pay TV retailer StarHub's platform.
The move follows SingTel's announcement that it has acquired rights to all BPL live matches, commencing August this year, for broadcast on "mio TV".
Cross-carriage rules, which require pay TV operators to share exclusive content, came into effect in August 2011.
Under the cross-carriage measure, pay TV retailers who have acquired any exclusive content on or after 12 March 2010 must widen the distribution of such content by offering it to other subscribers through the set-top boxes of qualified pay TV retailers.
MDA said this is similar to the arrangement for UEFA Euro 2012, the first piece of exclusive content to fall under the cross-carriage measure.
StarHub had acquired the rights to UEFA Euro 2012 exclusively last year and the 64 matches were cross-carried on the SingNet mio TV platform.
Commenting on the decision, StarHub's head of corporate communications & investor relations, Jeannie Ong, said "We welcome the decision of the Media Development Authority (MDA) to make the Barclays Premier League subject to the cross-carriage measure.
"Singapore viewers are the biggest beneficiaries of this decision and we are excited to be able to bring the BPL to our customers on our reliable network once again."
SingTel said it was "gravely disappointed" with the decision as it disadvantages both consumers and the industry.
Allen Lew, SingTel's country chief officer Singapore, said the company intends to appeal the decision and seek legal recourse if necessary.
He added that the development also means that soccer fans can expect to pay higher prices to watch matches in future.
Mr Lew said: "Once I have customers who are not sitting on my platform, I cannot subsidise them because there's no commercial rationale for me to subsidise them. So I have to raise the price for them.
"Unfortunately because I cannot have differential pricing... Once I raise the price for my competitor's customers, I also have to raise the price for my own customers because the ruling very clearly states: only one uniform price."
Meanwhile, the Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim will give "due consideration" to SingNet's appeal against MDA's direction to have the "live" matches of the Barclays Premier League cross-carried by rival pay TV retailer StarHub.
SingNet has informed the minister of its intention to appeal against the direction.
In a statement, the ministry said Dr Yaacob will hear representations from both SingNet and the Media Development Authority before making a final decision on the appeal. - CNA/al
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