SingTel told to share EPL content with StarHub

The next three seasons of the highly-popular English Premier League (EPL) football matches - starting in August - will be available on both StarHub and SingTel pay-TV platforms for the first time.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Media Development Authority (MDA) ruled that SingTel must share the content with StarHub under its "cross-carriage" regime after looking into StarHub's complaints against SingTel.

The cross-carriage regulatory framework which kicked in on Aug 1, 2011, compels broadcasters to share exclusive content obtained after March 12, 2010. The rule sought to negate the need for consumers to switch to or add another pay-TV operator because it had secured a monopoly on content.

Last October, SingTel said it had secured a non-exclusive deal with the Football Association Premier League (FAPL). This means it does not need to share its content with StarHub, which is free to negotiate its own EPL deal. But when attempts to negotiate its own set of rights were repeatedly thwarted, StarHub kicked the matter up to the regulator, alleging foul play and that SingTel's deal was in effect an exclusive one.

The contention centred around a "high rebate" that FAPL might have agreed to pay SingTel should its content be sold to a second operator in Singapore, thus causing delays to StarHub's own negotiation. StarHub only started talks with FAPL in March, even though SingTel's exclusive negotiation period with FAPL ended in December last year.

In a statement on Wednesday, MDA said: "Following a thorough examination of the agreement between SingTel and FAPL, and the information provided by SingTel and relevant parties, MDA concluded that the agreement contained certain clauses which prevent or restrict or are likely to prevent or restrict the same content from being acquired or otherwise obtained for transmission on selected platforms in Singapore by other pay-TV retailers."