MDA directs SingNet to cross-carry Premier League with StarHub

Supporters of English football will now have another option to watch matches on a different provider for the next three seasons after the latest ruling by the local media authority
The Media Development Authority (MDA) ruled today that SingNet will have to share its Barclays Premier League (BPL) content with rival StarHub over the next three seasons, starting from August 2013.

BPL matches are currently being broadcast only on SingTel’s mio TV, the subscription television platform of SingNet, after a deal was struck with the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) back in October 10 last year.

That was supposed to be a non-exclusive deal, which technically left StarHub free to negotiate with the FAPL on its own, but it was believed that SingTel included an “exclusive negotiation period” that locked out other operators for months.

Now, following a “thorough examination of the agreement between SingTel and FAPL”, MDA has concluded that the agreement contained restrictions that prevented other pay-TV retailers from offering the same content.

Part of a MDA statement indicated that such “restrictions therefore trigger the Cross-Carriage Measure, which became effective on August 1 2011… Under the Cross-Carriage Measure, pay-TV retailers who have acquired any exclusive content on or after 12 March 2010 (Qualified Content) must widen the distribution of such content by offering it to other subscribers through the set-top boxes of qualified pay-TV retailers.”

Such an arrangement is similar to the one during the Uefa European Championships 2012, which was the first piece of exclusive content to be cross-carried; in that case, it was StarHub who acquired the rights, with matches cross-carried on mio TV.

StarHub issued a response to MDA’s ruling through its Head of Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, Ms Jeannie Ong.

“We welcome the decision of the Media Development Authority (MDA) to make the Barclays Premier League (BPL) subject to the cross-carriage measure,” she said.

“Singapore viewers are the biggest beneficiaries of this decision and we are excited to be able to bring the BPL to our customers on our reliable network once again.”