BEIRUT: Lebanon’s state-sponsored television channel Tele Liban is pessimistic about the chances of airing the World Cup this summer.
“The Lebanese state got a promise from [Qatar’s emir] to be given permission to broadcast World Cup games ... and the case is now in the hand of the youth and sports minister,” Tele Liban Director Talal Makdessi told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. “There is no final contract up to the moment, there is a promise that could get implemented and may not, and I think it is not going to be implemented."
Makdessi accused the Lebanese state of reluctance in following up on the issue and urged it “to fulfill its duties in this regard.”
Youth and Sports Minister Abdul-Muttaleb al-Hinawi announced last month that Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had promised Lebanon that Tele Liban would be able to broadcast the World Cup 2014, scheduled to start Thursday.
Qatar’s state-owned BeIN, the new name for Al-Jazeera’s sports channel, has the 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 and plans on charging $110 for the full package. Should Tele Liban gain the rights to broadcast the World Cup, they plan to air it free of charge.
In a statement later during the day, Tele Liban’s board of directors issued a statement saying it is “still waiting for the Qatari Emir’s gift to broadcast the World Cup games.”
The statement said that the channel did not discuss any financial charge with Al-Jazeera Sports in exchange for broadcasting the games.