Singapore Government Will Not Subsidize Country's World Cup Broadcasts
Sponsoring the broadcast of all 64 World Cup matches "may be the popular thing to do," but the Singaporean government "will not do so," according to Irene Tham of the STRAITS TIMES. Senior Minister of State for Communications & Information Lawrence Wong said this is because using public funds in that way would not achieve the "delicate balance" required to protect consumers' interest. He gave the government's stand on the use of Public Service Broadcast funds, in response to four Members of Parliament who asked "what more could be done to make popular sports content such as the World Cup more affordable." Singapore viewers have to pay SingTel S$112 ($89) or an early-bird price of S$94 ($75) -- "possibly the highest globally" -- to watch the matches that kick off in June. But four key World Cup matches -- the opening game, semifinals and final -- will be broadcast on free-to-air channels, as they are in the "anti-siphoning list" of content that pay-TV providers cannot acquire exclusively. If the list goes any longer, pay-TV operators "would have little incentive to acquire the rights to broadcast the full set of World Cup matches." Wong: "Doing so would then divert a significant portion of PSB monies" (STRAITS TIMES, 4/17). THE NEW PAPER's Foo Jie Ying wrote it "is not known how much SingTel paid for the rights to screen the matches." For the last World Cup, it was reported that SingTel and StarHub forked out between S$40M and S$100M. Wong said that content owners like FIFA are price-setters who are "not obligated to sell their content at a price they do not agree with" (NEW PAPER, 4/17).