11 July 2024

Opposition MPs and representatives of civil society will today submit a petition with the Administrative Court to challenge a decision by Thailand’s broadcast regulator to approve 600 million baht to subsidize live broadcast of the World Cup 2022 finals in Qatar.

They also plan to ask the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) to investigate members of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) for alleged misconduct.

Members of NBTC on Wednesday voted 4-2 to set aside a budget of 600 million baht to support live broadcast of 64 matches of the tournament amidst strong criticisms from academics and consumer group.

They insisted that the budget allocation was in line with the objectives of the broadcaster regulator’s fund for communications research and development.

The live broadcast rights are estimated to cost over 1.6 billion baht. The Sports Authority of Thailand has offered to secure financing for the rest of the cost from private sponsors.

Sirikanya Tansakul of the opposition Move Forward Party voiced strong objection to the NBTC’s decision as it runs counter to the original objective of the fund which she insisted is meant for research and development for the broadcast industry.

She said NBTC has no business in supporting live telecasts of sporting events like the World Cup. “Promoting young’s people interest in sports as cited by NBTC as a justification to subsidize the live broadcast should be the responsibility of the Sports Authority of Thailand,” she said.

Sirikanya said she and representatives of the civil society will challenge the NBTC’s decision in a petition to be submitted to the Administrative Court today.  Besides, she will also ask the anti-corruption body to investigate members of the NBTC for alleged misconduct.

A former member of NBTC, Supinya Klangnarong, also voiced objection to the regulator’s decision.  “The fund is meant to be used for general public interest. Besides the decision will definitely affect the regulator’s liquidity,” she said.

The regulators’s decision followed a pledge by Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan that Thai people will definitely be able to enjoy  viewing live broadcast of the World Cup final matches with subsidies from NBTC.