Thailand to air only 22 World Cup games for free

Posted on April 1, 2014

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An administrative court has ruled that RS Sports, who bid for exclusive rights, will be able to charge for the other 42 after it was initially forced to broadcast all for free
Football fans in Thailand will have to pay to watch the 2014 World Cup now – at least part of it – after it was announced that only 22 out of the 64 games will be broadcast for free.

RS Sports, who own the exclusive rights to air the games, had planned to charge THB1,590 (USD49.35) for a brand new set-top box to watch all 64 matches. Existing subscribers also had the option of upgrading for a fee of THB299 (USD9.30).

However their attempt was quickly clammed down by the nation’s regulating body, National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NTBC), under a ruling that lists seven programmes, including the World Cup, that have to remain free-to-air.

Under threat from the NTBC to have their licence revoked and fined THB17million (USD527,458), RS retaliated by prosecuting the former as they felt it was unfair, with such an announcement coming only after they had bid for the rights.

On Monday, an administrative court ruled that the regulation violated the Intellectual Protection Act and allowed RS to go ahead with charging for their World Cup content, although 22 of the less crucial games, including all three of Honduras’ group ones, will still be shown free.

While Thai football supporters will be disappointed with the ruling, they can still consider themselves fortunate, as those in Singapore have to pay S112(USD88.50) for all 64 matches, with only four free-to-air.

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