State should not fund live telecast of the Games

Sports reporter Chua Siang Yee suggested that the Government should in future set aside more funds for Mediacorp to broadcast the Olympic Games live ("Lessons to learn for 2020"; Sunday).

The state funds public service broadcast programmes of high quality, which promote social values, culture and heritage to help build Singapore's identity, encourage racial and religious harmony, as well as stimulate knowledge and learning.

Such programmes must feature local content and range from current affairs and children's programmes, dramas and documentaries to game shows, sports news, technology and travel programmes, and variety shows.

The live broadcast of sports programmes such as the Olympics and the football World Cup does not fall into any of the above categories.

It is prudent for the state to use taxpayers' money to fund programmes that benefit the entire nation.

While the entry of Singapore athletes into the Olympics is a source of pride for the country, using state funding to feature their participation is inappropriate in these difficult economic times.

Taxpayers' money that could be spent on education, infrastructure, healthcare and so on, should not be channelled to fund the Olympics' live telecast.

The Olympics is a commercialised affair, with billions of dollars collected in broadcast rights.

It is not justifiable for the state to fund a programme that is best left to commercial pay-TV providers to determine the right price and, in turn, charge their subscribers.

This is fair because those who are keen to watch live telecasts should pay for such a privilege as it is a want and not a need.

It is surely wiser for the Government to fund facilities and the training of our national athletes to excel in sports.

Also, it is not right to abet the continuing increase in charges for broadcast rights to major sports events.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'State should not fund live telecast of the Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe