Court rules against Thai regulator in World Cup ‘must carry’ case

Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court has today ruled against the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission’s (NBTC) bid to force RS International, a subsidiary of Taiwanese music and entertainment firm RS, to provide all games from the 2014 Fifa World Cup national team football tournament on free-to-air television.

The Bangkok Post said today’s ruling means only 22 of the 64 matches, including the opening game on Thursday and the final on July 13, will be aired on free-to-air television via Channel 7 and 8.  The newspaper added the remaining 20 matches to be broadcast free-to-air will be at the discretion of RS but they will likely to be spread across the tournament.

RS and the NBTC have been engaged in a long-running legal battle over the World Cup rights, with the latter seeking that RS broadcast all 64 World Cup games free-to-air under Thailand’s “must-have rule”.

The must carry sports list outlines that the World Cup, along with the Southeast Asian Games, Asean Para Games, Asian Games, Asian Para Games, Olympic Games and Paralympic Games must be broadcast on free-to-air television in Thailand.

The Administrative Court ruled on March 31 that RS did not have to broadcast all 64 games free-to-air as required by the must-have rule because it had bought the rights in 2005 while the must-have rule took effect in 2012. The NBTC appealed against the ruling.

Pornpan Techrungchaikul, RS chief operating officer, said yesterday that her company would not do anything that violated its agreement with Fifa, world football’s governing body. She added the contract only allowed 22 of the 64 matches to be broadcast live on free television.

Following today’s ruling, the NBTC said it might use money from the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Reserve Development Fund for the Public Interest to subsidise an agreement to provide all games free-to-air.