Thailand’s NBTC Removes FIFA World Cup from “Must-Have” List

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The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) of Thailand has greenlit the removal of the FIFA World Cup from its “must-have” list, altering the mandate that required major sports events to be accessible on free TV channels. This decision, made after a public hearing in 2023, marks a significant shift in broadcasting regulations regarding premier sporting spectacles.

Chairman Clinical Professor Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck emphasized the global appeal and commercial importance of the FIFA World Cup, acknowledging its massive viewership worldwide every four years. The move signifies the regulator’s willingness to adapt and reassess its regulations, particularly concerning high-profile events like the World Cup, which entail considerable broadcasting commitments.

The alteration in policy follows a period of contention and negotiations surrounding the distribution of World Cup matches and broadcasting rights. Disputes among key stakeholders, including the NBTC, the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), and broadcasting entities like True Corporation, have led to prolonged discussions regarding the removal of conditions imposed by the must-have rule. Although an agreement in principle to abolish all conditions was reached in March 2023, the final decision was deferred until after the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup.

The decision to remove the FIFA World Cup from the must-have rule underscores the evolving landscape of broadcasting regulations in Thailand and reflects the complex dynamics involved in balancing commercial interests with ensuring widespread access to significant sporting events.

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