15 May 2010

Concerns over Singapore push for non-exclusive pay TV content

A proposal by the Singapore media regulator to remove exclusivity for pay TV content has raised concerns about the future growth of the industry in the country.

The ‘cross-carriage remedy’ has been proposed by the Media Development Authority in response to fierce bidding wars between the country’s two cable operators, StarHub and Singapore Telecommunications over rights for the English Premier League soccer and unfounded public anxiety that the upcoming soccer World Cup would not be shown in Singapore as both cable operators could not reach agreement with FIFA over coverage rights.

If the new rules are applied, it also damages Singapore’s status as an innovator in the industry with many seeing the country as a gateway into Asia.

The Cable & Satellite Broadasting Association of Asia’s CEO Simon Twiston Davies told The Financial Times that the proposal would breach World Trade Organisation rules and damage the future of the industry in Singapore:

“Over more than a decade, Singapore has made the most notable progress in the region when attracting international content companies to the country,”

“The ‘cross-carriage remedy’, insisting on the sharing of high value programming, damages the interests of every content owner and distributor.”

Head of Competition and Market Access at the MDA, Eileen Ang said the proposal will ensure content is made widely available and is supported by consumer groups.

Coverage of the World Cup was only finalised in March, making Singapore one of the last countries to conclude rights negotiations with FIFA thanks to the protracted bidding process, subsequently access to coverage will be one of the world’s most expensive at about $SGD 1 per match for residential customers and between $SGD 1000 and $SGD 4000 for businesses.


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