It is news that didn't bother me at all, but it has got quite a number of people in Singapore upset yet resigned over it. No, it isn't about the local S-League that has come up for criticism from one of its own. It definitely is not about Ris Low, nor the revivied mini-bonds saga. It wasn't the earthquake in Sumatra, which shook many Singaporean's out of their highrises. No, its is about the most important thing in many people's lives in Singapore today - watching the English Premier League (EPL) games 'live' on TV.
Many were upset to learn that their erstwhile provider for EPL broadcasts, Starhub, has lost its broadcasting rights to rival Singtel. Just when they were settling down on the skyhigh prices that Starhub currently charges, they are faced with the propect of paying more in a year's time. As both operate the transmission of their programmes using different platforms, die-hard fans will have to invest on both platforms - cable and mio, or give up their cable (Starhub) equipment in exchange for Singtel's mio. Such is the grief that honest but desperate consumers have to suffer from big businesses trying to hook them in. But why are these broadcast rights so expensive?
It is business. If Singtel thinks that it can 'extort' the kind of money it will probably charge viewers of these programmes, and these die-hard fans are willing to shell out that kind of money, then its a willing buyer willing seller situation. Well, Singtel did say that it will not charge more than what Starhub charges now, even though the amount of Singtel's bid is reportedly twice what Starhub paid (i.e. US$160m) when it secured the rights in 2007.
Whatever Singtel will charge is not important to me. What is important is that they don't go off and start cross-subsidizing their services, and recover the costs of the EPL license from non-viewers like me. Charge whatever you need to charge soccer-mad fans for their fix, but don't increase the prices of other services, such as mobile and fixed-line services. I am not a soccer fan and I do not want to pay for Singtel's madness, and those EPL soccer fans as well. If they find joy in contributing to the overpaid soccer players in the EPL, that's their pleasure and their right. I do not want to be a part of it.
Otherwise, I am sure MDA, or someone with a big stick, will look into it.