Parliament Sitting on 1 August 2022

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

42. Mr Murali Pillai: asked the Minister for Communications and Information with regard to IMDA’s Cross Carriage Measure (CCM) (a) whether, as a policy, a transmitting or receiving pay TV operator has the discretion not to share or broadcast exclusive content under the CCM; and (b) whether there are measures to ensure that both Singtel and StarHub have a joint obligation to broadcast all English Premier League matches "live" even if the number of matches being played at the material time may exceed the four channels allotted by Singtel and, if so, what are they.

43. Mr Murali Pillai: asked the Minister for Communications and Information why does IMDA allow StarHub to impose a subscription price of $64.90 per month for Premier League Pack via cross-carriage, in comparison to the preferential charge of $19.99 per month for subscribers applying by 30 June 2022 for the same programme via StarHub's set-top boxes.

Answer:

1. The Cross Carriage Measure (CCM) was implemented by IMDA in 2011 to facilitate competition in the Pay TV market and reduce inconvenience and cost for consumers from having to subscribe to multiple set-top boxes to access content across Pay TV operators. The CCM was subsequently scoped to cover "live" TV programmes acquired on an exclusive basis, to focus on key programmes of consumer interest.

2. Hence, to the Member’s question, if a "live" TV programme is acquired on an exclusive basis, the CCM requires the Pay TV operator to cross-carry the TV programme in its entirety and under non-discriminatory terms, on all other Pay TV operators’ fibre TV platforms. This is to ensure that consumers are able to access the same content on a standalone basis, via one set-top box, regardless of the Pay TV operator they subscribe to. Pay TV operators are not subject to the requirement if the TV programme is not exclusively acquired.

3. As StarHub has acquired the broadcast rights for the Premier League Seasons 2022-2028 on an exclusive basis, the CCM applies to StarHub for the Premier League Seasons 2022 to 2028. The CCM requires StarHub to offer the same Pay TV channels and programming that it offers to its own Pay TV subscribers, to Singtel’s Pay TV subscribers through Singtel’s set-top box. StarHub has discretion to decide how many channels to allot to the Premier League broadcasts and is not obligated to carry all 380 matches on a real-time basis. StarHub has to broadcast the non-real-time matches within 48 hours after the matches have ended, on both Singtel’s and StarHub’s Pay TV platforms. IMDA will ensure that their arrangement adheres to the CCM.

4. To the Member’s question about the difference in pricing for the Premier League Pack, I would like to clarify that it is offered at $64.90 per month via the Pay TV platform, and this same price is offered to all Pay TV subscribers, whether through StarHub or Singtel.

5. The Member may be referring instead to the pricing for StarHub’s Premier+ pack, which provides access to the broadcast of the Premier League not through Pay TV set-top boxes but via the Internet, also termed as over-the-top (OTT) platforms. The CCM does not apply to content accessed via OTT platforms, since consumers can more easily access content offered on many OTT platforms, without the need to subscribe to multiple set-top boxes.

6. For the Premier+ pack via OTT, StarHub’s offer of $39.99 per month is not exclusive to its own subscribers. For existing and new subscribers of StarHub’s mobile, broadband or Pay TV services, this pack is available at discounted rates ($19.99 per month for a limited time before 30 June, and $24.99 per month thereafter). The offering of volume discounts across multiple services can provide savings to consumers. It is also a common industry practice, not limited to service providers in the telecommunication and media industries.

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