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In world of pay-TV, sport's a different blast

The Straits Times | Loh Keng Fatt | Sunday, Aug 11, 2013

SINGAPORE - Be careful what you wish for.

A cross-carriage rule that mandates a pay-TV provider to share exclusive content - if there's a request from subscribers of a rival operator - was supposed to kick off a better cable-TV viewing experience for consumers.

But recent events have made football fans confused and upset.

They will now have to cough up a lot to enjoy their English Premier League (EPL) fix. This was after SingTel, which had acquired rights to EPL's 2013-16 seasons, was ordered to share its football booty with StarHub.

The cross-carriage rule aims to promote competition by not allowing pay-TV providers to compete for content via high bids and then provide it to their own subscribers exclusively.

The rule also lets consumers use just one telco's set-top box to access shared content. SingTel had tried to argue that its EPL deal wasn't exclusive, but the regulator didn't buy that argument.

The telco reacted to the order to share EPL by raising rates, arguing that it could not subsidise its competitor's subscribers.

The upshot? SingTel's existing mio TV subscribers will still pay the old rates. But new subscribers and those recontracting will pay from $64.90 a month for a Gold Pack, which includes movies and entertainment.

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