The Straits Times
Published on Feb 18, 2013

Pay-TV operators don't give consumers much choice


IN THE Media Development Authority's response ("Pay-TV operators have to adapt to consumers' signals"; Feb 8) to my earlier letter ("Consumers at mercy of pay-TV operators"; Jan 14), communications director Ho Hwei Ling maintained that I, as a consumer, can simply choose not "to buy a service that duplicates what (I) already have" and that "the pay-TV market is no different" from other markets, responding to demands of the consumers.

The free-market model only works if the market is indeed free and where consumers really have choices and the power to influence it.

But in Singapore's pay-TV market, the consumer is at the mercy of the two players.

Ms Ho suggests that bundled offerings appeal to some consumers, while others may be less happy and so should not subscribe to the bundled packages - that is patently obvious.

But what happens when a consumer wishes to subscribe to only a single channel but cannot because it is part of a bundle?

Ms Ho suggests that I have the power as a consumer is to just say "no", but it would deny myself the pleasure of watching the channel I want.

Standalone packages to watch Barclays Premier League games and cricket do not cover most channels, all games or other competitions like the Champions League or Europa Cup games even though these are shown on mio TV.

In addition, by moving some content previously broadcast on the same channel to new channels, consumers have to subscribe to a whole new package in order to watch the same offerings, all within a particular football season.

Prakash Nair


“We thank Mr Prakash Nair for his comments again. The a la carte market scenario as he has outlined, where consumers can buy whatever they want, and no more, does not exist, even in other competitive markets with multiple pay-TV operators. We hope that this article ( is useful in providing further perspectives on the matter, while explaining why channel bundling is practised in the pay-TV market.”: