Pay extra to watch FIFA World Cup, top court rules

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Media Hub, which has obtained exclusive broadcast rights to the FIFA World Cup, has decided to charge Rs565 extra per user, including VAT.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a ruling in favour of Media Hub, an advertising agency, allowing the company to impose extra charges on customers to give them access to the live broadcast of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Media Hub, which has obtained exclusive broadcast rights to the FIFA World Cup, has decided to collect Rs565 extra (including VAT) per set-top box stating that domestic advertisements do not cover their costs.

The matches will be shown live on Himalaya TV.

Advocates Kishor Poudel and Anupam Bhattarai had filed a writ petition stating that Nepalis didn’t have to pay extra to watch previous World Cups, and demanding additional fees this time was unlawful.

On November 8, a single bench of Justice Prakashman Singh Raut issued the interim order to those concerned not to charge the customers until the final verdict is made.

Justices Prakash Kumar Dhungana and Manoj Kumar Sharma on Wednesday said that there is no need to continue the short-term interim order issued on November 8.

The 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup kicks off on Sunday with hosts Qatar taking on Ecuador.

Billions watch the live coverage of the four-yearly extravaganza on television, making it the most-watched sporting event in the world.

“Watching the World Cup football by paying extra is not a regular but an optional issue for the viewers,” reads the Supreme Court verdict.

There also appears to be an option in the agreement between Himalaya TV and Media Hub that some important matches would be broadcast free of cost.

This means that customers who do not pay extra too can watch at least four important matches.

“We welcome the court’s verdict,” said Siddhartha Dhital, marketing director at Media Hub. “All the work for broadcasting the world cup matches had been halted after the court’s interim order. We will now work 24/7 to ensure the broadcast.”

“Worldlink and Vianet Communication, two of the leading internet and television services providers, have already signed agreements with us to broadcast the matches,” said Dhital.

Dhital had earlier told the Post that Media Hub bid for the broadcast rights for around Rs250 million for the month-long event. And an additional Rs150 million would be required for promotional activities and technical support.

For the first time in history, a Middle Eastern country is hosting the World Cup football. The tournament in Qatar will continue until December 18. A total of 64 matches will be played during the championship.

International media reports say that the Qatar World Cup will be the most expensive ever. The total cost of hosting the tournament is reported to be around $220 billion, around 20 times higher than the cost of the previous World Cup in Russia.

Football fans around the world have criticised the high prices of the tickets to the World Cup matches.

Fan groups across Europe have accused FIFA of “hammering” supporters by hiking ticket prices in the “most expensive World Cup” ever.

The most expensive tickets on general sale for the December 18 final at Lusail Stadium cost 5,850 Qatari riyals (£1,179), which is 46 percent higher than the £807 ticket price for the 2018 final won by France.

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