NBTC removes FIFA World Cup from its ‘must-have’ rule

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The rule, in place since 2012, also applied to other significant competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games and the Olympic Games – the decision follows a public hearing in 2023 to address uncertainties surrounding the rule’s future application to seven major sports competitions.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) of Thailand has approved the removal of the FIFA World Cup from its “must-have” rule, which mandates that major sporting events be accessible on free TV channels. The rule, in place since 2012, also applied to other significant competitions such as the Southeast Asian Games and the Olympic Games. The decision follows a public hearing in 2023 to address uncertainties surrounding the rule’s future application to seven major sports competitions.



NBTC Chairman Clinical Professor Sarana Boonbaichaiyapruck highlighted the commercial significance of the World Cup, a global event that commands a vast viewership every four years. The change signals the regulator’s openness to revising the conditions of the rule in the future, as the World Cup requires broadcasters to air a minimum of 200 hours of football programming in the copyright holder’s country.



The amendment also came after a period of contention involving the distribution of World Cup matches and broadcasting rights, which saw disputes between the NBTC, the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), True Corporation, and other broadcasting entities. Despite a prior agreement in principle to remove all conditions of the must-have rule in March 2023, the decision was postponed until after the 2022 World Cup. (NNT)