Bureaucratic battle to broadcast Premier League

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Photo: Official Site of the Premier League (premierleague.com) 

The pay-TV market in football-crazy Vietnam is heating up with conflicts over the rights to broadcast the English Premier League's (EPL) 2013-2016 seasons, with the first match scheduled for August 17.

Last month, Vietnam Satellite Television Company (VSTV) issued a press release that "indirectly confirmed" it had obtained exclusive rights to broadcast the next three EPL seasons, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

Four of the five-member "negotiation board," which was set up in February by Vietnam Television to discuss the purchase of the rights to broadcast the EPL met in Hanoi on May 7.

Le Dinh Cuong, secretary of Vietnam Pay TV Association, and three representatives from VTC, AVG and Viettel signed a document criticizing VTV, the board's head and only absent member, for being inactive in the EPL negotiations.

They said all members had agreed in February that Vietnam will only buy EPL broadcast rights at reasonable price and would not allow any one network to form a monopoly.

If VSTV attempts to monopolize the broadcasting of EPL matches in Vietnam by going through a foreign partner, VTV as the more powerful member of the joint venture VSTV is required to disallow any such sale, according to the February agreement.

But recently, France's Canal+ bought the EPL rights for US$40 million, selling them to VSTV. Meanwhile, VTV said it failed to act due to "regulations from abroad."

The four members said it would oppose VTV because based on the Enterprise Law, VTV has the right to veto any VSTV deal.

They said Vietnam should follow Singapore's Cross Carriage Measure, which would mean K+, broadcast by VSTV, would have to offer the EPL matches on other pay TV networks.

Asked about VSTV plan for broadcasting the upcoming EPL seasons, Jacques-Aymar De Roquefeuil, deputy general director of VSTV, said: "We are willing to collaborate with other operators when the commercial and technical requirements can be met."

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