Pay-TV: What cross-carriage measure has achieved

SINGAPORE - We thank Mr Tan Suan Jin ("Does pay-TV competition serve public interest?"), Mr Chong Wei Weng ("Own goal?") and Mr Ong Soon Yam ("EPL broadcast fee hike: Lose-lose scenario for all"; Forum Online) for their letters on Tuesday on pay-TV competition and consumer pricing of Barclays Premier League (BPL) content.

The cross-carriage measure was introduced in 2010 to address content fragmentation in the pay-TV market, where consumers had to contend with multiple pay-TV subscriptions and set-top boxes just to watch different exclusive content.

Under the measure, pay-TV retailers were then encouraged to shift from competing solely based on the acquisition of exclusive rights of highly popular content, such as sports programmes, to focus on other aspects such as service differentiation and innovation.

Today, we can see for ourselves that the measure has enabled consumers to enjoy exclusive content - such as the Uefa Euro 2012 in June last year, and soon, the BPL seasons 2013/14 to 2015/16 - on their preferred pay-TV platform.

More common channels are also available across multiple retailer platforms, from seven in 2010 to more than 60 now. These include entertainment and sports channels such as Celestial Movies, National Geographic Channel, Fox Sports and Star Sports.

With the measure, consumers are also enjoying more innovative and value-added services. For instance, since the BPL prices were announced last week, pay-TV retailers have started rolling out their discounted packages and add-on services such as mobile TV.

Consumers can take heart knowing pay-TV retailers want to woo them by coming up with attractive offerings.

While it is market forces, including a global trend of rising sports content acquisition costs, that directly impact pricing decisions, consumers can also take heart that they are an important part of this equation.

That is why consumers need to continue to signal to pay-TV retailers their acceptable price points, beyond which they will not pay, so that retailers can in turn make adjustments to continue to appeal to them.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) does not intervene with pay-TV retailers' pricing and bundling strategies - pay-TV retailers can decide the best commercial model and price points that they think would be acceptable to customers and provide customers with greater choice, convenience and innovation.

Rather, the MDA ensures that players are not engaged in anti-competitive behaviour, and have the greatest incentive to present attractive offerings for customers.

Ho Hwei Ling (Ms)

Director (Communications)

Media Development Authority

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