Feud over EPL rights continue

MDA recently imposed a SG$180,000 fine on SingTel for the disruptions on the final day of the match of the English Premier League (EPL) last year, affecting nearly 115,000 households for nearly two hours.

A SingTel spokesperson told Marketing that the cable operator has since apologised to the customers and offered SG$5million worth of rebates to all customers in June 2012. She added that external experts have been brought in to ensure that "viewing experience is up to the standards expected by customers".

Meanwhile, arch rival StarHub urged MDA to make EPL content subject to cross-carriage obligations.

In October last year, SingTel announced that it had inked the non-exclusive broadcast rights for the next three years with the English Premiere League.

However according to Jeannie Ong, head of corporate communications and investor relations at StarHub, the Premier League confirmed to StarHub, in writing, that it was still in an "exclusive negotiation period" with SingTel until the end of January 2013.

"We are perplexed by our competitor's latest clarification that its exclusive negotiation period ended on 21 December 2012, when they announced their securing of the non-exclusive BPL broadcast rights on 10 October 2012," she told Marketing in a statement.

She added the exclusive negotiation period for a non-exclusive deal "flies in the face of logic" and restricts other parties from acquiring the same content.

Ong said: "As the industry is well aware, each day's delay harms StarHub and our customers. Inordinate delay means lost advertising revenue opportunity, which is much needed to offset the high cost of the rights to avoid an exorbitant price increase for subscribers."

She explained that the deal made with SingTel also prevents StarHub from being able to market and sell the content to customers.

"The exclusive negotiation period has effectively given our competitor an unfair ten-week or more head start in getting advertisers and sponsors to offset the broadcast rights costs," she said.