Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Local soccer fans in limbo over TV rights

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

With the English Premier League (EPL) set to kick off this weekend, soccer fans in Taiwan are set to be disappointed with no live broadcasts of games to be shown on local sports channels.

For the first time in many years, Premier League games will not be shown on Fox Sports channels [formerly ESPN and StarSports] in Taiwan.

The move represents a new era for soccer fans, with beIN Sport the new player in town.

According to a company news release, beIN Sport, with its partner MP & Silva, has secured the media distribution rights for Premier League games for the next three seasons in the Philippines and Taiwan.

An affiliate of al-Jazeera Media Networks, beIN Sport will also broadcast games from Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, the FA Cup, US Major League Soccer and other major soccer tournaments.

In Taiwan, the company aims to launch three high-definition TV channels this month, including a 24-hour channel dedicated to Premier League games and news.

The move cannot come soon enough for soccer fans because with the Premier League kicking off on Saturday, there are currently no live matches being offered by local TV stations.

Telephone calls from the Taipei Times to MOD (Chunghua Telecom’s TV service) and various major cable TV distributors for Greater Taipei, Greater Taichung and Greater Kaohsiung confirmed this “state of limbo.”

None of the companies contacted are offering beIN Sport or other new soccer channels in the coming months, and company officials indicated they will be sticking to the regular offering of Fox Sports, StarSports, ASN and Videoland for sports programming.

According to a local media industry source, the National Communications Commission, the nation’s media regulator, could be an obstacle to the new soccer offerings, along with the need for collaborating with a local partner to negotiate financial and rights agreements.

The source also cited issues with acquiring operating licenses for new TV networks, saying the process is drawn out, with regulatory reviews and other official requirements to be navigated.

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