Thai junta orders regulator to secure free-to-air World Cup coverage

Thailand's military junta has told the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to broker a deal for coverage of all 64 matches during football’s 2014 Fifa World Cup to be available on free-to-air television.

The junta, which overthrew the country’s government last month, ordered the commission’s chairman, Takorn Tanthasit, “to seek ways to return happiness to the people through viewing all of the 64 World Cup matches on free-to-air channels”. The regulator’s chairman added that the watchdog would now “seek measures to compensate RS” in order to strike a deal.

The order came after Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled yesterday (Wednesday) against the regulator’s bid to force pay-television broadcaster RS International to allow all of the games to be shown on free-to-air television.

The court ruled that as the World Cup rights were acquired by RS before a so-called ‘must carry’ rule to share coverage of major events was introduced last year, RS had no obligation to make more than 22 of the matches available on a free-to-air basis, as specified in the broadcaster’s original rights deal.