BEIRUT: Lebanon's scramble over the broadcasting of the World Cup heated up Wednesday, after the Qatari prime minister promised to help secure the rights for state-run Tele Liban.
“I will help with the decision to broadcast the World Cup on Tele Liban,” Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser al- Thani said during a meeting with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Wednesday morning in Doha.
Sports Minister Abdul-Muttaleb al-Hinawi revealed that Thani was waiting for BeIN Director Nasser al-Khurafi to return to Qatar in order to resolve the matter with him.
BeIN- the new name for Qatar’s Al-Jazeera’s sports channel -has the distribution rights to the 2014 World Cup.
Representatives of Sama cable company, which holds the broadcast rights in Lebanon from Qatar's state-owned BeIN network, met with Hinawi Wednesday afternoon, assuring him that they had a contract for exclusive broadcast rights for the cup, set to kick off Thursday.
Following the talks, Hinawi told the National News Agency that BeIN informed him via email that they refused to give Tele Liban the right to broadcast the World Cup matches.
Earlier in the day, Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon met representatives from Lebanon’s cable networks. The networks' distribution coordinator, Mohammad Khaled, told the minister that Tele Liban would broadcast the World Cup games free of charge. Khaled requested that any citizen asked to pay additional fees to watch the games contact the consumer protection hotline.
Tele Liban Director Talal Makdessi, for his part was reluctant.
“We haven’t received any information yet,” he told The Daily Star, adding that he was waiting to hear from BeIN and would announce any confirmed developments.
But Makdessi said he remained optimistic that a last minute deal will be clinched.
Last month, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani promised Lebanon that Tele Liban would be able to broadcast the World Cup. Qatar’s state-owned BeIN, the new name for Al-Jazeera’s sports channel, has distribution rights to the 2014 World Cup.
Sama cable television plans to charge $110 for the entire World Cup package, however, the company has said that if Tele Liban broadcasts the game for free, it will file a lawsuit against the state-owned TV.