Olympics: Eleventh-hour deal struck for live broadcast in Singapore

Chef de mission Low Teo Ping (centre, in red jacket) and some members of the 25-strong Singapore contingent at the Games Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after the welcome ceremony on August 2. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - National broadcaster Mediacorp has finally struck a deal with broadcast rights holder Dentsu to beam the 2016 Olympic Games live, one day before the opening ceremony on Saturday morning Singapore time.

Sports fans can watch the Games live every day from Aug 6 to 22 on okto, Mediacorp's designated television channel for sports, and four Toggle channels. Toggle channels are free and no set top box is needed.

The two sides had earlier failed to reach a deal because of Dentsu's reported asking price of US$6 million (S$8.05 million). The Government had declined to step in to provide additional funding to secure the live broadcast rights. A Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth spokesman had said: "The Government notes that prices for 'live' sports content of major games like the Olympics have been escalating in recent years. It has reached the point where we have assessed to be neither prudent nor value-for-money to spend more and more on escalating rights fees."

It is understood that Mediacorp and Dentsu made compromises to push the deal through. The price tag is believed to be around US$3.2 million. In the 2012 London Olympics, Mediacorp paid about US$2.5 million for screening rights.

On July 22, The Straits Times reported that Mediacorp and Dentsu had inked a deal for only delayed telecasts of the sporting action. Only the opening and closing ceremonies would be shown live.

The International Olympic Committee awarded broadcast rights in 22 Asian countries to Dentsu in 2013.

Asked about the broadcast situation in Singapore, Mr Ng Ser Miang, chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) finance commission, said: "I think it should be a win-win for both (Mediacorp and Dentsu).

"Singaporeans should be able to see our athletes perform live."

Mr Ng, who on Thursday was elected to the IOC executive board, its highest-level decision making body, added that both parties should strike a deal early for future editions.

Dentsu holds the broadcast rights for the next two Olympics.

He said: "It has happened in the past (to cut it this close). With better planning... you'd have time to work on generating revenue."

Chef de mission Low Teo Ping said: "It is great news that there will be live telecast and I am sure this will provide an additional impetus for the members of Team Singapore in Rio to want to give off their best."

Student Edward Chan, 23, said he is pleased with the latest outcome.

"At first it was disappointing that we didn't have live coverage because I was looking forward to watching swimming, athletics, canoeing, rowing and weightlifting.

"Having live broadcast allows athletes to watch and support Team Singapore athletes together and I think this strengthens the bonds between Singaporeans.

"It could even encourage more to take up sports when they see the inspiring feats of our athletes," he said.

Former national synchronised swimmer Stephanie Chen, 21, said: "Having support from the country is very important because the athletes are doing their best to make the nation proud. Support can come in many ways and I'm sure the athletes have gotten as much support as they could have on their road to the Olympics.

"But if everyone back home is able to watch them compete live, I think it gives them a very different kind of motivation to do their very best."

Team Singapore is fielding 25 athletes at the Games, with the contingent headlined by swimmer Joseph Schooling and the women's table tennis team.

The butterfly specialist won a bronze in the 100m fly at last year's World Championships, and is a medal contender in the same event.

The Republic's paddlers, led by world No. 4 Feng Tianwei, brought home three medals from the last two Games, and are aiming to keep up their winning streak.

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