US group gets in on cross-carriage debate | News | Rapid TV News
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US lobby group The Coalition of Service Industries (CSI) has written to Singapore’s government and media regulator expressing its concern over rules forcing cross-carriage of pay-TV content by all the city-state’s pay-TV platforms.


Under the plans, which are applicable to any exclusive content deals signed since March, SingTel’s Mio platform will have to offer its content to rival StarHub’s subscribers and vice versa. Any other new pay-TV entrants would be bound by the same rules.

Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) has decided on the new rule in order to ensure pay-TV subscribers do not have to keep switching platforms when rights switch between the operators, and to ensure that all pay-TV subscribers have access to all available content.

But in its letter the CSI, a non-profit organization dedicated to the liberalization of international trade, said its concerns were over the MDA’s moves “to impose a policy limiting the rights of content owners to control the distribution of their product. The proposed policy would eliminate the right of content owners to supply their products to Singapore’s pay-TV platforms on an exclusive basis, for distribution through only one authorized retail channel,” the letter continued.

US companies such as Discovery Communications, Disney, ESPN, Fox and other major programmers would find their businesses affected by the new rule.

One reason for the letter was an article in Singapore’s Business Times newspaper cited by the CSI as “justification for the imposition of such restrictions”.

The CSI said: “While there is some regulation in this area in the United States, it is targeted only at a subset of the market – vertically integrated operators, i.e. content companies who also own cable platforms… Most major media groups in the U.S. are therefore not subject to these rules.”

“Other than the narrowly tailored rule described above, U.S. policy for television programming is not to tell those who create and distribute content with whom they should enter into contracts, or what the terms and conditions of those contracts should be – including exclusivity. Indeed, in the United States, some pay-TV channels and most television programs are indeed licensed to broadcasters and pay-TV channels on an exclusive basis,” the letter adds, concluding: “We respectfully request that MDA reconsider its proposed new policy. As presently designed, it is an overly broad move that would limit the rights of all content owners to contract for the supply of their products in the manner of their choosing.”