World Cup ruling looms

About 2.4 million TrueVisions subscribers are likely to watch all 64 World Cup football matches on its pay TV platform if RS Plc wins its Supreme Administrative Court appeal on Tuesday.

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RS, the broadcast rights holder of the tournament, is fighting a court case with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which wants it to broadcast all the matches on free TV as required by the must-have rule.

But the entertainment company plans to broadcast only 22 matches on two free TV channels — Channels 7 and 8.

The Central Administrative Court in early April ruled in favour of RS, and the broadcasting regulator appealed.

The must-have rule requires seven major sports events to be broadcast on free TV so that the public can enjoy major sports events.

But RS said it secured the broadcast rights to the 2014 World Cup in 2005, before the must-have rule took effect.

Executives from RS and TrueVisions confirmed they were in talks to award the latter sublicencing rights to the World Cup.

“We have negotiated for a while, but the deal cannot be settled until the court case between RS and the NBTC is finalised,’’ said a TrueVisions executive.

‘’If RS loses the case, it will have to broadcast all 64 matches on free TV channels. So it will not be necessary for us to secure any broadcast rights for our platform.

“But if RS wins, we’ll push for the deal’s conclusion as soon as possible, as the World Cup will kick off in Brazil on June 12.”

The World Cup 2014 will be organised in Brazil from June 12-July 13.

In another development, the NBTC has issued guidelines for community radio stations wanting to resume broadcasting after being suspended by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for more than two weeks.

More than 7,700 community radio stations were shut down for national security reasons in the wake of the May 22 coup. The blockage covers 4,700 legal radio stations and 3,000 illegal ones.

Col Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC’s broadcasting committee, said the reopening of community radio stations must be for the 4,700 licenced operators.

They will be able to resume broadcasting if they can prove their radio signal transmissions are certified.

Among the 4,700 legal stations, 80% are for commercial purposes, 10% for public purposes and 10% serve communities.

Presently, only 600 radio stations have received approval for the quality of their signal broadcast equipment.

The majority must update their equipment to meet the NBTC’s technical requirements such as 500-watt electrical power and a broadcasting tower 60 metres above the ground with 20-kilometre radio coverage.

The radio station must strictly comply with NCPO orders and must not foster political conflict or social division.

For commercial purposes, the NBTC allows the reopening of only one station per juristic person.

For public- and community-purpose radio stations, only one station is allowed to reopen in each category per province. Each juristic body can hold only one licence.

Col Natee said all approved documents must be submitted to the NBTC’s 14 provincial offices, and they will be considered by the joint committee consisting of members of the NBTC and the NCPO.

The new guideline to reopen community radio stations will reduce their number to about 3,500 from the 4,700 stations before the coup.

The guideline will be submitted to the NCPO for approval, and the process will commence next week.

“The restructuring under the NCPO will help us to screen only quality operators to comply with the broadcasting industry, standardising those that were set up before the advent of the national broadcasting regulator,” said Col Natee.

Community radio stations frequently jam aircraft radio signals, and the strict new regulations will solve this long-running problem. Currently, radio listeners can receive only 524 radio stations running under government agencies.

Col Natee said it also approved 10 TV channels to go on air again as they declared themselves pay TV channels.

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