Channel 5 will broadcast the opening and final matches from Brazil in high definition via its digital terrestrial system. Its network covers more than half the country’s population. The army-run channel will broadcast 38 games.
Channel 7 will broadcast 29 matches, Channel 8 will air 56 matches and Channel 11 will broadcast all 64 matches.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board yesterday (June 12) agreed to use B427.015 million from the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research and Development Fund for the Public Interest (BTFP) to pay RS Plc, the rights holder for the TV screening of the tournament matches in Thailand, to allow all 64 matches to be shown on free TV.
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Winthai Suvaree yesterday (June 12) denied that the junta had ordered the NBTC to use money from the BTFP to compensate RS.
Col Winthai said the regime is looking at other ways to compensate RS, such as seeking financial support from other private companies, if money from the fund cannot be made available.
The NCPO understands how business is done, Col Winthai said, adding that the NCPO only coordinated between the NBTC and RS so they could meet for talks and the NCPO did not force an agreement.
Lt Gen Chatudom Titthasiri, director of Channel 5, said the B427 million in compensation paid to RS is nothing compared with the happiness Thais will gain from watching all 64 World Cup matches.
Opposition to the move to spend the fund’s money to compensate RS has been widespread on social media, with stickers opposing the move shared among Facebook users.
Many netizens criticised the move, saying it will lead to a new kind of populism.
Initially, RS planned to broadcast only 22 matches on two free TV channels, Channel 7 and Channel 8. If it has to air all 64 matches on free TV, it argued that it would suffer business opportunity losses.
RS said it would incur B766 million worth of lost opportunities from its World Cup set-top box sales and in sub-licensing revenue from pay-TV operator TrueVisions.
NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit said RS, however, accepted its offer and the B427 million is the maximum amount the BTFP could pay.
However, he said actual payment could be adjusted pending review by a panel, to be set up soon, which will comprise representatives from the NBTC, RS, the Finance Ministry, the Commerce Ministry and the Budget Bureau.
The World Cup broadcasting subsidy will be funded from the B3 billion in fines collected by the BTFP from telecom and broadcasting operators who violated regulations.
Mr Takorn said the panel believed the compensation to RS was in line with the BTFP’s objective, which aims to provide basic broadcasting services to all Thai people, particularly the disabled, elderly and the disadvantaged.
The BTFP is also designed to help protect consumer rights. This compensation also conforms with the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday, he said.
In conclusion, all 64 World Cup matches can be watched through four free TV channels on every system — the Royal Army-owned TV Channel 5, BBTV’s Channel 7, RS’s Channel 8 and Channel 11.
Football fans who want to watch more than the kick-off, they can access pre-competition, rerun matches, sport training and exclusive programmes directly from the Fifa feed, which is being aired for the first time in Thailand on RS’s World Cup Channel.
The World Cup Channel can be viewed on PSI HD set-top boxes and TrueVisions.
Asked about consumers who bought World Cup set-top boxes, Mr Takorn said it ordered RS to submit a plan to “alleviate the burden” on the 300,000 people who bought them. An announcement will be later today.
See original Bangkok Post story here.