How are subscribers protected if broadcast deals fall apart?

The delay by local broadcasters to strike a deal with the rights holder for the Uefa Champions League season has left football fans frustrated (Champions League Singapore TV deal: 5 games live, but impasse remains; Sept 19).

Many had signed contracts with their broadcasters expecting the inclusion of top-class football action, as is often marketed.

How are subscribers protected if the deal falls apart? Are subscribers able to cancel their subscription without penalties because the broadcasters did not fulfil what they had advertised? Will they be taken to task for possible false marketing of content?

Furthermore, it will also be interesting to find out why discussions have been left to the last minute. Why was a deal not sealed earlier while the broadcasters continued to collect subscription fees from subscribers?

It is ironic that while we are discouraging the illegal download of cable content or the use of illegal cable boxes, the broadcasters' failure to secure the best content for subscribers will actually encourage more people to search for content from other sources. Should people be faulted for this?

The most convenient way for broadcasters to deal with this is by providing some compensation, such as the $4 off TV subscriptions dished out by StarHub for the cessation of Discovery Networks channels, but this is not what customers signed up for.

Subscribers have been paying their subscription fees religiously and, therefore, it is only fair for the companies to reciprocate with the best content as promised.

David Tan Kok Kheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'How are subscribers protected if broadcast deals fall apart?'. Print Edition | Subscribe