BEIRUT — Caretaker Information Minister Ziad Makari told L’Orient Today his “part of the job is finished” after negotiations failed Monday between Lebanese authorities and private broadcasters to allow public channel Télé Liban to broadcast the World Cup in Qatar.
The file is now “in the hands” of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government, Makari added.
For his part, Mikati issued a statement Monday saying that the problem lies in “the transfer” of funds abroad by Lebanese authorities, which would require cabinet approval. However, the cabinet resigned after legislative elections in May and therefore cannot meet.
The amount that Télé Liban must pay to broadcast the competition is half the amount requested during the World Cup in Russia in 2018, said Makari.
The caretaker minister had recently told L’Orient-Le Jour that negotiations were complicated, as Lebanon was “broke” due to its economic crisis.
On Monday, Mikati also stated he was looking for other ways to pay “through the telecom operators” — without naming them — although there are also “obstacles.”
Among those obstacles are the rates imposed by Qatari sports channel beIN Sports, whose official distributor in Lebanon is the Beirut-based company Sama. The company offers Lebanese tourist establishments access to the entire World Cup broadcast for an amount ranging from $3,000 to $50,000, depending on location and capacity, according to a customer service representative reached by L’Orient-Le Jour. For individuals, the subscription was set at $125, but in recent weeks was discounted to $90.
Faced with these prohibitive prices, and to avoid abuses of some establishments that would be tempted to reimburse their subscription with huge entrance fees, caretaker Tourism Minister Walid Nassar announced on Saturday that he had asked establishments that will broadcast the matches to declare all the entrance fees that will be charged to customers “for monitoring and control purposes.”
While prices will likely differ for each establishment, they will have to remain “fixed” regardless of the day and the game being broadcast.