BEIRUT: Talks between Beirut and Doha to grant Lebanon’s state-run TV station Tele Liban the right to broadcast the 2014 World Cup have stalled, the chairman of the state-run television station told The Daily Star Sunday.
Talal Makdessi said that no progress has followed the verbal promise made by Qatar to Lebanese officials and diplomats earlier this year that Tele Liban would be able to air the World Cup free of charge.
Qatar’s state owned BeIN, the new name for Al-Jazeera’s sports channel, has distribution rights to the 2014 World Cup. Currently, cable television provider Sama is the only one with the rights to air the World Cup in Lebanon.
In Europe and the United States, The World Cup is regularly shown on basic cable, enabling the masses to enjoy watching the matches. In Lebanon however, Sama is charging a fee of $110 to install their cable box with a subscription that allows viewers to watch all the games.
Despite the lack of progress in talks, Makdessi said he still hoped a deal with Qatar would be reached and added that Tele Liban is technically ready to broadcast the world’s most viewed tournament.
World Cup matches kick off June 12. While Lebanon has never qualified for the World Cup finals tournament, football frenzy hits Lebanon hard every four years as fans hang flags from their balconies and on their cars.