The Media Development Authority has announced that they will require pay TV operators to carry the contents of third parties, but this will only apply to future contents.
This is a good move, but does not go far enough. The biggest damage is going to occur in respect of existing content, specifically the English Premier League. Over the next few months, many households will have to go through the expensive exercise of switching their platform (from Starhub to Singtel) or installing a new set of cables. It is wasteful and inconvenient.
Singtel is likely to face serious resource issues in meeting the heavy demand and also in addressing the technical issues of connectivity and customer experience. Already, they faced glitches. This is bound to increase significantly.
MDA or the acting minister for information, communication and the arts should take the bold step of mandating that this requirement apply to existing contents as well, to take effect from (say) 1 June 2010. It will be doing a favor for Singtel. They will be able to reach out to a wider audience of viewers and earn additional subscriptions to meet their heavy payment for the EPL content.
Starhub has earlier announced that they will carry the EPL content for free on its cable platform. Singtel should take up this offer, in the interest of Singapore (i.e. to reduce waste). I congratulate Starhub for its gesture in the interest of the public (although some people say that it is done for commercial reason).
MDA has announced that a new generation set top box will be provided in the future. Any advantage that Singtel can earn by forcing consumers to move to its Mio platform will be temporary and will probably be yield sufficient commercial advantage (but I could be wrong).
I hope that MDA and the acting minister will take the bold step now, instead of waiting for the damage to be done.
Tan Kin Lian
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