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MDA has announced an exemption of bundled packages being cross-carried while SingTel as exclusive rights holders released new pricing plans for cross-carriage EPL content

The long-drawn out battle over the rights to broadcast the English Premier League (EPL) in Singapore appeared to be finally over after Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim's rejection of SingNet's April 26 appeal over the Media Development Authority's (MDA) enforced cross-carriage rule.

But football fans in Singapore will have a lot more to be concerned about following the announcement of the new price package for the EPL standalone content that will be cross-carried on both SingTel and StarHub.

MDA released a press release on Friday July 27, announcing their final decision following deliberation of SingNet's filing of an exemption request earlier this month under Paragraph 2.7.1 (a) of the Code of Practice for Market Conduct which asked that StarHub only cross-carry the channel package containing EPL content (Standalone EPL content), instead of cross-carrying channel packages containing EPL content and other non-EPL content as part of an 'EPL Bundle'.

The exemption request was upheld by the MDA on the grounds of public and media interest, with StarHub also agreeing with the decision. The ruling will ensure that fans who want to subscribe to watch the EPL need only purchase the Standalone EPL content instead of bundled packages that might contain duplicate channels on cross-carriage platform.

Under cross-carriage rules, the holder of the exclusive rights to the content, SingTel, sets the pricing of the package. SingTel had earlier stated that an enforced cross-carriage ruling will affect the projected revenue from exclusive broadcast and lead to higher pricing.

On Friday, SingTel released the new pricing for its content. The much-anticipated Standalone EPL package is available for S$59.90 on both mioTV and StarHub. A similar Sports Pack from mioTV which included EPL content was available for just S$34.90 last year.

In comparison, mioTV's Gold Packs which has over 80 channels including EPL, other sports, entertainment and more is available for just S$64.90.

With the steep difference in pricing, which already has some football fans up in arms, more dispute could still be in the offing.

In a media statement just prior to the announcement of SingTel's pricing, Ms Jeannie Ong, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, StarHub, said: "To ensure that cross carriage works successfully to give customers real choice, it is important for MDA to ensure that the pricing for the EPL packages is non-discriminatory. No customer should be disadvantaged whether he chooses to view the football matches on StarHub’s platform or otherwise."

StarHub also stated that they will be announcing pricing for their relevant packages soon.

The new EPL season kicks-off on August 17 with the Charity Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic being played a week earlier.