All Lebanese Will Watch World Cup Matches without Paying Extra Fees, Says Mitri

Lebanon’s Information Minister Tareq Mitri stressed Monday that “all the Lebanese will watch the (2010 FIFA World Cup) football matches … without being charged extra fees.”
“Discussions with the concerned parties tackled the means of respecting the (broadcasting) rights of the Al-Jazeera (pan-Arab satellite TV network) as a first step,” Mitri said.

“The Lebanese law guarantees respecting its (Al-Jazeera’s) rights, even though it lacks implementation provisions upon which we can put a criterion for assessing these rights,” he added.

As to cable providers, Mitri noted that discussions are underway to reach a settlement on the transmission fees they will have to pay Al-Jazeera.

Answering a question on the suggested fees, Mitri said: “Al-Jazeera suggested figures and so did the syndicate (of owners of restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and pastries in Lebanon), and we differentiated between 3-, 4- and 5-star rated restaurants and those not rated by the Tourism Ministry. We also differentiated between the cafes that have 300 chairs or more and those that have only 100 chairs.”

“We reached an agreement regarding Beirut, while the Syndicate of Owners of Hotels and Restaurants in Mount Lebanon demanded lower prices than those decided for Beirut,” he added.

“As to cable providers, there is a fees collection problem. There are 1,900 providers in Lebanon, and the only solution is that they pledge to pay a lump sum amount of money to Al-Jazeera,” Mitri said.

“Al-Jazeera has international and regional standards that it wants to implement in Lebanon, knowing that Lebanon’s circumstances are different and it’s not easy to adopt these standards.

“But there’s no dispute on acknowledging the rights of Al-Jazeera, and given that there are no implementation provisions for the intellectual property law which can allow us to decide on the fees – the materialization of these rights – we have no choice but to reach an agreement.”

Mitri has held a series of meetings “with all the parties concerned with broadcasting the FIFA World Cup matches.”

“Although I’m playing the mediator role and I have no authority over anyone, and the State is not an intermediary between the rights owner and the cable providers,” he added.


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