PSC: SEAG TV revenue to fund Para Games
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2019 - 12:00am

The undeclared revenue generated by the broadcast rights and other sponsorships of the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games should fund the 10th ASEAN Paralympic Games which will also be held in the Philippines.

This was the reaction of the Philippine Sports Commission to The STAR’s exposé Monday that possibly billions of pesos in SEA Games television revenues alone have been undeclared. SEA Games organizers, in this case the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee or PHISGOC, generally hire an outside contractor to design, package and sell the rights to live broadcasts of the various sports to other countries participating in the SEA Games.

The initial budget of P6 billion allocated by the Philippine government for the conduct of the SEA Games was further augmented by P522 million from the PSC. This was done upon instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte to not let the Games fail. This was also in response to impending problems caused by several factors, including delays in procurement of equipment and services, and other complaints.

The government is estimated to have spent hundreds of millions of pesos to hire American broadcast producer NEP Group, Inc. to sell the broadcast rights for the Games to at least the 10 countries that participated. NEP is a long-time broadcaster that has vast experience in live sports event coverage and has done visual effects for international blockbuster series like “Game of Thrones.” The amount paid to NEP is not clearly indicated in the budget for the SEA Games, which consolidated the P6 billion spent by the Department of Budget and Management, Philippine Olympic Committee, PHISGOC and the PSC. The PSC, being the government’s highest sports governing body, disbursed the public funds used, since private entities are not authorized to handle government funds.

“The 30th SEAG was hosted by the government with a budget of  P7 billion, through PSC,” explains PSC chairman Butch Ramirez, “and therefore, all income from all activities by PHISGOC must go back to government, like TV rights, tickets, and all fund-raising activities by PHISGOC and POC. It’s a COA rule.”

When government agencies or government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) make money, the income is remitted to the National Treasury for use in other nation-building projects. The Commission on Audit will review all the expenditures for the SEA Games 30 days after its conclusion, in the second week of January. In 2005, the Philippines spent P300 million hosting the SEA Games, P27 million of which was later disallowed by COA. Even prior to this year’s SEAG, the Senate already expressed alarm over its extremely large budget, beginning with the million-dollar cauldron which was first used in a prerecorded segment of the opening ceremonies.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN Paralympic Games (Para Games), which traditionally follow the SEA Games, have been turned over to the PSC. The Paralympic Games were started in England in the 1920’s, initially to provide a competitive playing field for military personnel who were disabled in World War I. The 2020 ASEAN Para Games in the Philippines have been moved from January to March to allow for better preparation. These Games are traditionally held in many of the same venues where the preceding SEA Games are staged.

“The income from the SEA Games should be given back to the government so that Para Games can be funded right after SEA Games,” Ramirez added.

As of this writing, it is unknown how much total revenue the broadcast rights and sponsorships of the Games brought in. The estimates range from P500 million to over P2 billion. This airtime rates and fees vary from country to country, as does programming. Though the Philippines loves basketball, other ASEAN nations which were colonized by European countries prefer to watch football.

The PSC is hoping that all the monies earned from broadcast rights, sponsorships, merchandising and other deals will be remitted to the government soonest, so that the Para Games may go on without a hitch.  After all, the country’s responsibility did not end with the SEA Games closing ceremony on Dec. 11.

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