Pay-TV firm told to share football telecast rights

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Pay-TV company Vietnam Satellite Digital Television has been ordered to share telecast rights of international football games with other networks in the country.

The company, a joint venture between state-owned Vietnam Television and France's Canal Plus, will have to discuss pricing and other issues with other networks aiming to ensure benefits for local viewers, Deputy Information and Communications Minister Do Quy Doan said at a meeting on Wednesday.

The price for telecast rights will be decided by the networks themselves, he said.

Many TV viewers were upset this month after Vietnam Satellite Digital Television acquired exclusive telecast rights for popular European football competitions and required viewers to pay high fees to watch the games.

The 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, which used to be aired free to the public on major broadcast networks.

Vu Quang Huy, an official at VTC, the network that had the rights to broadcast all Premier League matches last year, said at Wednesday's meeting that this year's telecast rights were offered to various networks, which is why their price skyrocketed.

If local networks keep competing on broadcast rights, it's going to be an endless war, Huy said, suggesting more cooperation.

Doan said the Information and Communications Ministry is forming a pay-TV association to prevent similar situations in the future so as to protect the interests of both networks and viewers.

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