FOR months, SingTel and StarHub rejected repeated inquiries on their joint bid for football's 2010 World Cup broadcast rights, insisting any revelation could jeopardise negotiations with Fifa. On Friday, that wall of silence was shattered.
'We understand the importance of the World Cup to Singaporeans but Fifa has been asking for an unreasonable amount,' said SingTel Singapore CEO Allen Lew.
And if the impasse with football's world governing body continues, Mr Lew warned that Singaporeans will have to make do with just four live games on free-to-air television.
The irony is the telcos may be in this bind because of last year's bidding war for the English Premier League (EPL) TV rights.
It is believed to have cost StarHub just $10 million to show the 2002 World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan, and $15 million for the 2006 edition in Germany, for which viewers had to pay between $15.75 to $26.25.
Mr Lew insisted on Friday that SingTel will not be held to ransom. He said: 'SingTel is financially responsible to its shareholders. And we have doubts whether Singaporeans are willing to pay so much. We genuinely want to work with Fifa to get the World Cup rights. We still hope to close the deal with Fifa. Hopefully, sense will prevail.' - ST.