How does FIFA distribute broadcasting rights to media across the globe?

After covid and dengue, it is FIFA Men’s World Cup fever that is spreading like a pandemic at present. But it is not a brutal one. FIFA World Cup’s 22nd edition in 2022 is a pandemic of joy, unfurling like wildfire among football supporters worldwide. The 32 qualified nations have been filtered down to 4 teams in the semi-finals already, December 18 being the decisive date for a new record in the game’s history.

But all of the sports lovers in Nepal may not be having the best time enjoying this festival that this once-in-four-years tournament is. Reason being, the new provision of having to pay NRs 565 including the 13% VAT to their cable operators in order to watch the matches. This decision is unlike what World Cup Broadcasting arrangements have been in the past and is not a well-received one by the audience overally. 

Why is this new system in place all of a sudden? Who are we paying and for what? Has it dallied the excitement this occasion would have otherwise ensued? Is it somewhat of a hindrance to people’s right to entertainment?


Distribution Hierarchy

The broadcasting and distribution rights for the FIFA Men’s World Cup is reserved with the organisers of the tournament which is the ‘Fédération Internationale de Football Association’ i.e. the FIFA itself. FIFA is a non-profit organisation that seeks to invest all its earnings from the sport in the development of the sport itself. The distribution of media rights is one of the main points of commercialisation for the organisers as one of the sources of reimbursement for all the investment that goes into arranging the tournament.

The location differs for every World Cup. This time it is Qatar, first ever Middle Eastern country to host the esteemed tournament. Media and Marketing Regulations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (MMRs) is the legal codification of the broadcasting rights this time. The media and data rights in connection to all the 64 matches, information, audio-visual materials and other statistics belong solely to FIFA. It has however got into multiple agreements with all the 195 countries that have earned recognition from the United Nations regarding the transmission permits.

Several nations have their own broadcasting channels in both TVs and online streaming platforms that have undertaken the job of screening the matches of the tournament. The provisions in relation to the number of matches broadcast and replayed differ. Countries have their own settlements with national broadcasters: BBC and ITV in the UK, ITE in Ireland, SBS in Australia, ZDF and ARD in Germany, SRG SSR in France, RTBF in Belgium, and TF1 in France are a few examples. They have their corresponding online streaming coverage as well. The best thing about these arrangements is that they are free for the native residents.

Viacom18 has bought the World Cup Qatar 2022 transmission rights from FIFA for the South Asian region that includes countries like India, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.


Current Broadcasting Provisions in Nepal

The National Broadcasting Act 2049 and The National Broadcasting Regulation 2052 are in charge of the broadcasting provisions in Nepal. According to them, broadcasters are not permitted to charge fees exceeding the standard fixed by the Ministry of Information and Communications. However, the receivable fee is calculated on the basis of the cost incurred by media agencies in broadcasting the respective programs. 

Until the last FIFA Men’s World Cup of 2018, Nepal government had bought the transmission rights in a nation’s capacity. The matches were thus broadcast free of cost. This time around, Media Hub - a private Nepali media company has won the broadcasting rights from Viacom18 in a bid that cost it Rs 25 crores. Hence the agency’s decision to cover the cost through an extra Rs 500 per set-top box connection provision. 

Media Hub has further entered into an agreement with Himalaya TV which is the sole channel authorised to broadcast the championship in Nepal. Several news outlets made headlines stating that illegal websites streaming the matches shall be banned but the decision has yet to come to fruition.


Judicial Decisions

Recently, a writ petition was filed at the Supreme Court of Nepal in early November by advocates Kishor Poudel and Anupam Bhattarai demanding Media Hub to not charge extra to view the World Cup matches as it was against the law. An interlocutory order had initially been issued against Media Hub to not implement the extra-fee decision by the single bench of Justice Prakashman Singh Raut. The order was later followed by the decision in favour of the private company by a joint bench of Justices Prakash Kumar Dhungana and Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma after the advertising agency argued that they had paid a huge sum to acquire the broadcasting rights and that revenue from the domestic advertisement sources will not be enough to recover the cost.

Viacom18 has also secured a John Doe Injunction order from Madras High Court to refrain infringers from overstepping the company’s transmission authority which was gained at a price of Rs 450 crores. The order results in restriction to numerous websites, ISPs, MSOs, and LCOs to broadcast content that falls under the violation of the company’s jurisdiction. It has also issued News Access Rules that demarcate the time and content limit for different news broadcasting agencies to borrow their media along with certain other prohibitions.



Football, otherwise also known as soccer is one of the most popular games across the world having sizable viewership in more than 200 countries. It points to the fact how much this tournament is a source of entertainment and has become a reason for international bonding since its herald.

One relief in this ongoing encumbrance in our enjoyment is that we will be allowed to watch 4 important matches free of cost, they being the opening, two semi-finals, and the final match. But other group stage matches knock-out rounds and quarter-finals require payment of the aforementioned fee to be taken merriment from.

This is quite a let-down in entertainment rights and expectations of Nepalese. Most nations have aided their countrymen by mobilising government owned agencies to broadcast the tournament.  The government, with its tax collection base and multiple other sources of foreign aid, should be thoughtful in making it easier for its citizens to enjoy the bare minimum that an individual’s quality of life demands rather than making it more taxing every day.