Yaacob Ibrahim (pictured), Minister for Communications and Information, has called out the problem of escalating costs when it comes to securing sports broadcasting rights for major events such as the Olympics. This was in response to questions over current negotiations to secure the live broadcasting rights for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which the minister said was still ongoing.
He added that if the rights owners only seek to maximise their profits, they risk making broadcasts of major games less accessible by âdriving fans to other media channels or away from the sports entirelyâ. He added that this is in no oneâs interest in the long-term.
Over the past few years, broadcasting rights fees have been growing rapidly. For example, when it came to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Dentsu originally wanted to charge three times what it cost to broadcast the 2012 London Olympics live. This shows how lucrative the business of broadcasting rights has become, Yaacob explained.
âAt the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult for broadcasters to recoup the escalating costs of broadcasting rights, because there are so many cheaper options to watch such sporting events live,â he added.
Yaacob maintained that the negotiations are best left to the broadcasters and rights owners to undertake and conclude, as it would be âunwiseâ to take the position that the country should have live telecasts âregardless of the costâ and for the government to underwrite any amount demanded by rights owners. This is particularly when rights are still being negotiated.
In response to nominated member of public Kok Heng Leunâs question on whether or not the government would consider working with broadcasters to âpull together resources to secure broadcasting rightsâ, Yaacob said it is important to recognise commercial arrangements. He added that it was âbest to leave it to the right owners and broadcasters to negotiateâ. This is while the government continues to monitor the situation.
In 2016, Mediacorp struck an eleventh hour deal with Olympic Games rights holder Dentsu Inc to live broadcast the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This follows aÂ furor over news that MediacorpÂ would only provide a raft of dedicated programmes featuring daily highlights, delayed telecast of selected events and coverage of the Opening and Closing ceremonies.
The incident also sparked debate on whether or not the government should step in when it came to the negotiations. To this, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth told Marketing at the time that acquisition of rights for live sports content will remain a commercial decision, and as such it is unlikely to intervene.