NBTC refuses to pay World Cup bill

RS Plc, the broadcast rights holder for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, may take legal action against the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) if it has to take a cut in compensation for broadcasting all the matches on free TV.

The move was made after an NBTC subcommittee on World Cup compensation suggested the NBTC pay RS only 220 million baht, almost half the 427-million maximum the regulator could pay.

RS chief executive Surachai Chetchotisak said the company did not agree with the reduced compensation, as the amount would not cover its opportunity loss.

The company must shoulder a burden of 326 million baht caused by refunding 200,000 set-top boxes and 30,000 subscriptions, he said.

RS has received 118 million baht from the NBTC since July and needs an additional 308 million baht for the compensation.

"If our request for the additional payment makes no further progress, we'll submit a petition to the Central Administrative Court for full payment and for damages caused by the payment delay," Mr Surachai said.

He said it was not fair for RS, as it had complied with the NBTC's request to broadcast all 64 matches on free TV.

But the NBTC delayed the compensation payment for one-and-a-half months after the World Cup tournament ended on July 13.

RS sent two letters to the NBTC asking for the outstanding 308.8 million baht, but there has been no further progress.

Mr Surachai claims RS went along with the telecom regulator's proposal, as it saw a good intention to allow the public to watch all the World Cup matches and offer a respite from the political tension.

Originally, RS planned to generate 650 million baht in advertising revenue from World Cup content.

Set-top box sales and subscription fees are surplus, with an estimated 750 million baht in revenue.

During the negotiations with the NBTC, RS suggested 770 million baht in compensation for opportunity loss, but RS finally settled for a maximum payment of 427 million.

RS won the court case against the NBTC, which wanted to apply the must-have rule to the World Cup tournament and force it to air all 64 matches on free TV.

It originally planned to air only 22 matches on Channels 7 and 8.

The broadcast of all 64 matches was accepted by both RS and the NBTC on June 11 via Channels 5, 7 and 8.

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