Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the national organising committees for SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games (CAMSOC-CAMAPGOC), denied that Cambodia set a price for the live broadcasting rights of the upcoming biennial multi-sports events, as reported by a Thai media outlet.

Chamroeun made the remarks during a March 1 working group meeting to organise the International Broadcasting Centre for the production and promotion of the two events.

He informed the working group that recently a Thai network had reported that CAMSOC had set a high figure for the sale of the live broadcast rights of the huge regional sporting event.

“CAMSOC has never set a fixed price, but are negotiating with the National Olympic Committee of Southeast Asia. They will agree to re-broadcast through their respective national TV stations before a price I negotiated,” he said.

“Cambodia does not set the price, so please do not be confused by the claims that we have done so,” he added.

On February 25, the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS) reported that hosts Cambodia had set a price of $800,000 for the rights to broadcast the May SEA Games live. According to their article, Thailand is unlikely to pay, on the grounds that the price set is “too high”.

Without citing a source, Thai PBS claimed to have quoted an official at the Sports Authority of Thailand as saying they could not afford the price and did not know where the money would come from. The source claimed that Thai officials planned to negotiate with their Cambodian counterparts to reduce the fee, adding that it was not yet known which TV stations were interested in buying the rights.

It used the same unnamed source to cast aspersions on Cambodia, claiming that SEA Games’ host nations usually charge a small nominal fee for broadcast rights.

It said that Vietnam had charged just $10,000 when it hosted in 2022, and that the Philippines had charged just $5,000. The article noted that Laos was the first nation to charge for the rights – with the permission of the SEA Games Committee – when it hosted in 2009.

At the time, Laos asked for $300,000, but none of the participating countries were prepared to pay, it said, adding that since then, no host country has tried to charge a fee of more than $10,000.

“Cambodia always works in accordance with the SEA Games standards, and this is also true when it comes to broadcasting coverage. We adhere to the clear legal practices of selling television rights granted to us as hosts by the Southeast Asian Games Federation Council,” said Chamroeun.

In accordance with the rules and in the spirit of unanimity in Southeast Asia, he explained that there had never been any objection to the sale of television rights by the host country in the past.

“I would like to reiterate that Cambodia has not set a price for the broadcasting rights to these prestigious events – they are subject to market negotiations,” he said.

“It makes sense that an event that has a large market would set a high price, while one with a small market would negotiate a smaller one. We can’t set a fixed price – it must be negotiated with potential buyers. I hope that domestic and international media outlets can understand this clearly,” he added.