SingTel keeps true to pricing threat

Football fans are seeing red over the newly-announced price points for English Premier League (EPL) broadcasts on cable TV. This comes after SingTel's failed appeal against Media Development Authority (MDA) orders SingTel to share EPL content with its rival StarHub.

Late last week, local telco SingTel priced its standalone, nine-channel EPL package at a hefty SG$59.90. Last year, the package cost only SG$34.90.

However, the move does not come as a surprise. In an earlier interview, Allen Lew, CEO of SingTel's digital life unit warned that customers who wish to watch BPL on its own will most likely have to pay significantly higher monthly fees as it will "become untenable for SingTel to subsidise" these customers.

Currently SingTel is allowing its mioTV subscribers to be charged the lower rate up until their contracts run out. Lew also added that SingTel has made every effort to ensure its representation was heard because it "believed that this was in the best interest of football fans" and to give customers certainty of content at competitive prices."

Under this "cross carriage law" ruling, SingTel, as the initial exclusive rights-owner, is allowed to allocate prices for the EPL content as it chooses.

Meanwhile, StarHub' Jeannie Ong, senior vice president, corporate communications & investor relations, said that StarHub, while heartened by the MDA's ruling, thinks "it is important for MDA to ensure that the pricing for the BPL packages is non-discriminatory to "ensure cross carriage works successfully to give customers a real choice."

Ong added: "No customer should be disadvantaged whether he chooses to view the football matches on StarHub's platform or otherwise. While there are implementation hurdles in the cross-carriage discussions with our competitor, we assure customers that StarHub will do its utmost to resolve them, to ensure that customers get what they desire: a seamless broadcast of the BPL".

The feud was triggered when in October last year SingTel announced it had inked the non-exclusive broadcast rights for the next three years with the EPL.