Thai regulator defends ‘must carry’ rule in court

Thailand’s national broadcast regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, has defended in court its ‘must carry’ rule for all 64 matches of the 2014 Fifa World Cup football tournament to be shown on free-to-air television.

The commission’s chairman, Natee Sukonrat appeared at the Administrative Court to testify in a case brought by RS International, a subsidiary of Taiwanese music and entertainment firm RS, which holds the country’s broadcast rights to the tournament.

Under the so-called ‘must carry’ rule, RS, which has exclusive television and online rights for the 2014 World Cup, has to make all of the tournament’s matches available for free-to-air television.

RS has argued that such a move would harm its business, but Sukonrat said: “the implementation of this rule cannot possibly affect the company.”

Earlier this year, RS suggested a compromise of allowing 22 games to be shown on free-to-air television, but argued that it should be able to show most of the matches exclusively as it acquired the rights before the legislation was introduced last year.

The seven events covered by the ‘must carry’ rule are: the Fifa World Cup, Southeast Asian Games, ASEAN Para Games, Asian Games, Asian Para Games, Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.