11 July 2024

FIFA has threatened to suspend broadcast rights for World Cup 2022 football matches in Thailand after it was discovered that audiences in two neighbouring countries can view the Thai transmissions, even though the broadcast rights for their countries have not been purchased.

According to the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), FIFA has demanded that Thailand meets the encryption standards required, otherwise it may pull the plug.

After receiving the notification from FIFA, the SAT called an urgent meeting with the parties concerned, among them the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and digital TV operators, to consider FIFA’s demand.

An SAT official said that the meeting concluded that they could not meet FIFA’s encryption standard, because the transmission technology employed by service providers is not advanced enough and the customers’ set-top boxes are not compatible with the required technology.

The meeting did agree, however, that they would propose to FIFA a change to the transmission code which, they believe, would prevent audiences in other countries gaining access to broadcasts in Thailand.

Regarding the reallocation of broadcast rights for the 64 football matches, following complaints of unfair allocation in favour of True Corporation by digital TV operators, an SAT official said that True Corp has decided to relinquish the rights to 16 of the 32 matches for redistribution among digital TV operators.

It was agreed that all of them will be allocated equal rights to air three matches each, instead of just two.

True was originally allocated the rights to air 32 matches, because it contributed about 300 million baht to the fund to buy the rights from FIFA, on top of the 600 million baht contributed by NBTC, but the amount was still short of the 1.4 billion baht required.

More Thai companies subsequently made contributions, making it possible for the Thai audience to watch all the 64 matches.

Thai PBS, the public service broadcaster, has the right to air the match today (Thursday) between Switzerland and Cameroon at 5pm and the match between Portugal and Ghana at 11pm, then the match on December 1st between Canada and Morocco.