BEIRUT: Just hours before the start of the World Cup, with bars, restaurants and cafes across the country gearing up for the inaugural Brazil-Croatia match, Tele Liban’s chairman said the state television provider’s ability to broadcast the event for free was still up in the air.
“We are ready to broadcast in 5 minutes, the rest is up to the Lebanese government,” said Talal Makdessi, adding that he has prepared all the necessary equipment for broadcasting the matches in Lebanon.
Last month, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani promised that Tele Liban would be able to broadcast the 2014 games, but despite a flurry of meetings and discussions this week, a contract has still not been drawn up.
“We haven’t received any information yet,” said Makdessi.
Youth and Sports Minister Abdul-Muttaleb al-Hinawi Wednesday told the National News Agency that Qatari company BeIN – Al Jazeera’s sports channel which has distribution rights to the World Cup – had emailed him to say that Tele Liban would not be given the broadcast rights.
The same day, Qatar’s Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani vowed to help resolve the issue in a meeting with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk .
Currently Sama cable television is the only provider with the rights to air the World Cup in Lebanon. It plans on charging $110 for a subscription but will air the games for free if Tele Liban is given a contract.
Hinawi was also presented with legal documents assuring Sama’s exclusive coverage of the games during a meeting with the provider’s executive director Hassan al Zein and chairman Mohammad Mansour Wednesday.