MDA to investigate mioTV’s EPL telecast disruptions

SingTel mioTV scores a major own goal with a patchy transmission on the final day of EPL season. (courtesy of Liu Jiaming)SingTel mioTV scores a major own goal with a patchy transmission on the final day of EPL season. (courtesy of Liu …

The Media Development Authority (MDA) is probing the repeated disruptions to SingTel mioTV's telecasts of the English Premier League (EPL) season finale on Sunday, according to The Straits Times (ST).

The disruptions, which angered football fans and affected viewers in various parts of Singapore including Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh and Tampines, prompted many users to write in to Yahoo! Singapore's feedback channel (reachus@yahoo-inc.com) to air their displeasure.

"We take a serious view of service disruptions and will not hesitate to take firm action against service providers that breach their licensing conditions," an MDA spokesman was quoted as saying in the ST report.

The spokesman also confirmed that MDA is "currently investigating complaints of reception issues faced by mioTV subscriber" during Sunday night's broadcast.

The game that was most affected by the disruptions was between eventual champions Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers as local fans were left infuriated by frequent interruptions and "freezings" during the live telecast on Sunday.

Meanwhile, SingTel has issued an apology for its glitch-ridden coverage and will offer a "goodwill gesture" to affected customers of its mioTV cable television service.

In a statement issued on Monday, Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO of SingTel's consumer division in Singapore, said, "We will contact impacted customers directly in the next two weeks to explain the issue and offer a goodwill gesture.

"We take this issue very seriously and will be making significant changes to ensure mio TV customers do not experience a similar situation again," he added.

Explaining the reasons for SingTel's sluggish coverage, Yuen added, "An unprecedented number of viewers tuned in last night to the season finale of the League.  At its peak, there were ten matches playing concurrently.

"Due to the close links between two of the matches a high number of customers switched repeatedly between two channels at unusually high frequency.  The switching volumes were five times higher than the previous peaks.  This surge caused our system to slow and led to viewing problems for some customers."

"We sincerely apologise to customers for this untimely inconvenience. We understand how exciting the matches were and regret that we let our customers down on this important occasion."

Meanwhile, an online petition calling for SingTel to refund all its affected mio TV customers as well as for the company to be stripped of their rights to show the Premier League games has been circulating.

The sports pack, which includes the mioStadium pack, ESPN Star Sports and GoalTV channels, costs S$34.90 per month with an 18-month contract

Yahoo Singapore's feedback channel reachus@yahoo-inc also received several emails from fans upset about the similar patchy transmission.

Marketing manager Jerry Lee said he could "hardly enjoy the matches in peace.  It's really horrendous and spoilt the whole mood and joy of watching the game."

Another fan and mioTV subscriber, Tan Boon Hua, said his screen froze almost every 10 minutes of the Man City game and he had to repeatedly restart his modem.

He said for the last 20 minutes of the game, even restarting his modem didn't work.

To make matters worse, he called the SingTel service hotline and was told by operators that they could not take his call due to "extraordinarily high call volume".

"I find it amazing that after an entire season their technical infrastructure is not up to scratch," he said.

"What makes things worse is that knowing that it's the last day of the season, they didn't even prepare for a larger team of customer service officers to take phone calls. Appalling customer service. I am extremely unhappy about what happened," he added.

Frustrated fan, Welyon Sujipto, called for a heavy fine for SingTel and asked relevant authorities to look into the matter.

"I think it should be a case for the IDA to fine SingTel heavily, or for all fans to do something against this service provider," he said.

Jason Ng was among several others who said it wasn't the first time this season that SingTel mioTV had scored such a major own goal.

"Last weekend when watching the FA Cup final, my Singtel box kept losing the picture signal and I could only hear the sound. I had to keep restarting the modem," he said.

Shahida Ariff also demanded compensation for the cable provider's "atrocious" coverage.

"mioTV hasn't gotten its act together after one entire season of screening the English Premier League. This isn't the first time I've had disruptions to my Mio TV signal... as paying viewers we demand some form of compensation," she wrote.

Associate manager Evelyn Tan believes StarHub should take over the rights to show the Premier League games as SingTel has failed to deliver.

"I do hope Singtel can do something about our inconvenience and best of all, to let Starhub takeover the future broadcasts."