SingTel hints at fee changes in letter to BPL subscribers

SingTel lost a match against a government ruling on cross-carriage earlier this month, but it launched a counter-attack last week by sending a strongly-worded letter to its Barclays Premier League (BPL) subscribers.

In the letter, the pay-TV provider urged its customers not to take any action until the outcome of its appeal to the Media Development Authority is known.

It admitted that mio TV had "missed some goals" in the past, "but like any good football team, we will work harder and keep bouncing back to give fans something to cheer about".

It also reassured existing BPL subscribers that should its appeal be turned down, those under contract would not be affected by any changes during the full term of their agreement period.

But SingTel also hinted once again that fee adjustments are in the works.

It said it "cannot subsidise the BPL in the same way" now that MDA had directed that it allows rival cable TV provider StarHub to cross-carry BPL matches from the upcoming season.

"We are working hard to appeal against MDA's decision so that we can continue subsidising the cost of BPL for you," said the letter, which was signed by Mr Toh Da Sheng, the head of sales and marketing for SingTel's Next Gen TV.

"We strongly feel this is an unfair ruling. Most importantly, we are appealing MDA's decision because it affects you, our customer."

Earlier this month, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim had rejected SingTel's application to stay a ruling that required the telco to share BPL broadcast rights with StarHub.

However, SingTel's main appeal against MDA's ruling that its contract was exclusive is still pending the minister's decision, which could be announced as early as this month.

When asked about the letter, a SingTel spokesman said it was needed to explain to customers why they could not renew their contracts as the telco had stopped selling BPL content after the announcement.

Mio TV subscriber Henry Han, 37, said he would have to work out his sums when pricing for the new packages is released. Other factors, such as which content provider has better content, will also be considered.

He said: "Will mio sweeten the deal by offering cable channels of the big teams or cup matches? If you can give me more choices, I'll definitely stay with you."

roysim@sph.com.sg