Sports broadcast wars set to heat up
The European Football Championship, Euro 2012, may exit the stage after today's final between Spain and Italy but the end of one of the most viewed sport tournaments could mark the beginning of fierce competition never seen before in Thailand in the sports broadcast business.It had never happened before that the topic of discussion in every corner was not solely focused on the action on the field. Instead, mutterings of discontent could be heard almost everywhere as a screen with a statement of apology greeted some people for the Euro matches.
That was the result of the stalemate between TrueVisions, the country's biggest pay-TV operator with an estimated 1.8 million subscribers, and GMM Grammy, who had acquired the broadcasting rights for the Euro tournament in the country.
Most people, TrueVisions subscribers in particular, were aware of the threat of a "blank" screen long before the start of the event in Poland and Ukraine as Grammy had made it clear that they could watch Euro matches either through a GMM Z set-top box or use conventional antennas to follow the games on terrestrial channels - Channels 3, 5 and 9 - to which the company was sub-licensing. On Friday, the Civil Court rejected a petition by a customer protection group to order Grammy to allow cable television operators to rebroadcast the Euro 2012 tournament. One of the reasons the court ruled against the petition was the concern that Uefa might revoke its contract with GMM Grammy.
The fall-out from the Euro broadcasting saga potentially could have far-reaching consequences. Certainly, it could lead to retribution, with Grammy's act seen as a slap in the face of TrueVisions. There was also no doubt that competition for broadcasting rights of sport events would become more intense.