Thailand The Nation reports that RS International Broadcasting and Sport Management (RS) had secured the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup Final broadcasting rights before the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)’s “must have” rule advises that all 64 matches of this year’s FIFA World Cup Final must be aired on free TV came into effect in 2012. 

The Administrative Court may overturn the rule, says Supan Sueharn, a lawyer for the local holder of broadcast rights to the football tournament.

Under this rule, seven sports events –The Southeast Asian Games, Asean Para Games, Asian Games, Asian Para Games, Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and the FIFA World Cup Final – must be accessible to the public via free TV.

At a hearing on the case, the judges acknowledged that the subsidiary of leading music and entertainment firm RS had held the Thai broadcasting rights to the 2014 World Cup finals since 2005 and the company must be protected by copyright law.

Therefore, those rights could prevail despite the NBTC’s two-year-old must-have rule. “The must-have rule would be inoperable for those rights that have been sealed legally before the rule’s implementation”, Sueharn says.

A legal representative of the NBTC’s broadcasting committee who appeared at court yesterday said the judges had been told that RS would not be affected by the must-have rule because it could run this programme on its newly obtained digital channel as well as its pay-TV platform. RS recently secured a licence to run a digital TV channel for variety programmes.