No anti-trust violation in football pricing

TN News

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It's acceptable for local TV networks to purchase expensive telecast rights and then set high service fees, an official said, noting that no anti-trust violations have been discovered so far.

The cost of telecast rights is determined by the market, Vu Ba Phu, deputy director of Vietnam Competition Administration Department was quoted as saying in the Friday edition of Tuoi Tre.

Even if many viewers can no longer afford high service payments, they have to accept them as a function of supply and demand, Phu said. Anti-trust violations occur when two networks work together to control the market, he added.

Many TV viewers were upset this month after Vietnam Satellite Digital Television, a joint venture of state-owned Vietnam Television and France's Canal Plus, acquired exclusive telecast rights for popular international football competitions and required viewers to pay high fees to watch the games, which used to be aired gratis on broadcast networks.

The pay-TV company said it had spent "a huge sum of money" for the exclusive broadcast rights to the competitions, including the Italian Serie A, the Spanish La Liga and the English Premier League.  

As a result of its hefty investment, the company claims, it has to set high annual fees of VND3 million (US$157). That compares to regular fees of VND55,000-70,000 ($2.8-3.6) a month charged by other pay-TV service providers in Vietnam.

Cao Van Liet, general director of Vietnam Satellite Digital Television, told Tuoi Tre that if his company lowers service fees it will incur losses.

"In terms of pricing, we think our prices are reasonable," Liet told Tuoi Tre. "Vietnam Satellite Digital Television only has responsibility to its own customers and it can't be responsible to all customers (of other pay-TV companies)."

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