SingTel won BPL rights on a non-exclusive basis in October 2012, and the Media Development Authority of Singapore subsequently deemed the contract exclusive in nature, compelling SingTel to share its content under the “cross-carriage” rule.
The Media Development Authority of Singapore has released a document explaining why SingTel’s appeal against the cross-carriage rule was rejected, forcing the telco to share its Barclays Premier League content with rival StarHub.
In the agreement between SingTel and the Football Association Premier League Limited (FAPL), the clause on content promotion by subsequent buyers stipulated that they may not announce their rights or engage in marketing or promotion until a prescribed time before broadcast of the BPL. MDA ruled that this restriction will reduce the content’s attractiveness as subsequent buyers will have to take into account the marketing “headstart” achieved by SingTel, reducing the pool of subscribers available. Furthermore, MDA noted that StarHub customers may purchase a SingTel set-top box before StarHub is permitted to announce its ownership of the rights, which would contradict the cross-carriage measure that aims to benefit the consumer.
The second objectionable clause stated that SingTel will be entitled to a significant reduction in fees payable to the FAPL should there be a subsequent buyer. MDA ruled that this removes any incentive for FAPL to license BPL content to subsequent buyers unless the offered price is at least equal to the price reduction given to SingTel, creating a price barrier.
The combined effect of these two clauses render the BPL content rights commercially unviable to a subsequent acquirer, said MDA. This decision results in SingTel’s BPL content being deemed Qualified Content, compelling SingTel to cross-carry with StarHub.