The opening match and the final of the FIFA World Cup could be shown free in the Middle East, according to reports in a Qatari newspaper.
Al Jazeera has the exclusive broadcast rights in the region and is charging around US $100 for access. However, according to reports in the Gulf Times, the network is obligated by its deal with the organising body FIFA, to show both the final and the opening match without charge, to a free-to-air (FTA) audience.
“All rights holders will have to air the opening ceremony, the first match on June 11 and the final on July 11 for free,” the paper quoted an unnamed source as saying.
“Al Jazeera Sport may go a step further and telecast the semi-finals for free too. There is also a plan to air Algeria’s matches free because it is the only country from the Arab world to qualify for the event.”
There has been much controversy in recent weeks as pay TV operators and IPTV service providers raced to offer customers access to the event in time for kick-off.
The Middle East is one of a handful of territories that does not broadcast the event entirely on a FTA basis.