Minister rejects SingNet appeal against EPL cross-carriage decision

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim has ruled in favour of the Media Development Authority after considering both parties' arguments

SingNet have been dealt a blow after Minister for Communications and Information (MCI) Yaacob Ibrahim rejected their appeal against the Media Development Authority's (MDA) direction to cross-carry live Barclay's Premier League (BPL) matches for the next three seasons.

The decision came after the minister had carefully considered the written arguments from both SingNet and MDA and decided in favour of the latter. 

The saga began on April 24 this year after MDA issued a direction to SingNet to cross-carry BPL matches starting from the 2013/2014 season to 2015/2016.

Two days later, SingNet submitted an appeal to the MCI to request for the cross-carriage to be suspended.

On June 6, the Minister decided against suspending MDA’s direction and SingNet was required to continue its efforts in making the necessary arrangements for cross-carriage, while the full appeal process continued.

In a press statement on Friday that revealed the result of the full appeal process, MCI said that the minister had provided both parties with sufficient opportunity and time to submit their written arguments and his decision was based on the assessment of "a number of factors".

These included whether clauses in SingNet's original agreement with the BPL were likely to "prevent or restrict" other local pay-TV operators here e.g StarHub from carrying the content.

The aims of the cross-carriage rule were also laid out as MCI reiterated that operators should distinguish themselves based on creative means instead of securing exclusive content to shut other parties out.

“The Minister also noted that the key objectives of the Cross-Carriage Measure include addressing the high degree of content fragmentation and encouraging pay-TV operators to shift from a content-centric strategy to other forms of competition, such as service and content innovation," part of the statement read.

“Pay-TV operators should keep this in mind and continue to provide better value to the consumers."