FAM has attributed failure to roll out live beaming of top-flight matches on a dedicated pay television channel last weekend to delays in the shipment of equipment due to Covid-19.
But Football Association of Malawi (FAM) commercial and marketing director Limbani Matola, who is also the prospective pay television channel’s project manager, has allayed fears the project won’t roll out, saying: “By now, Malawians could have been enjoying watching Super League action from the comfort of their homes on the new dedicated channel if it was not for some delays on shipment of subscriber management system equipment by MDBNL [MalawiDigital Broadcasting Network Limited] due to Covid-19.
“Otherwise, the establishment of dedicated pay TV channel on Malawi Digital Broadcasting Network Limited, Kiliyekiliye platform, is almost concluded.
“According to our project implementation charter, we are on course to switch on the channel not very far from now because all the technical processes are now concluded.”
He said it was “a very engaging and thorough procedure”, which involved conducting technical due diligence on capacity and capability of MDBNL as the designated host broadcaster.
“It also involved evaluation of bids by potential host content producers. Furthermore, there was physical validation of equipment to be used for live match productions in line with CAF standards.
“We applaud our independent team of technical consultants who professionally anchored this whole process.”
Explaining how it will work, Matola said: “The project works in this way, we have a host broadcaster who is also called carrier, in this particular case it is MDBNL who will carry the signal and broadcast it to pay TV decorders.
“Then we have what is known as host content producer, these are companies that will be involved in production of matches and thereafter they will share that with MDBNL who will in turn broadcast that content to decorders.
“So, we are working with the two technical partners host broadcaster and host content producer.”
He also said FAM remains highly indebted to Malawi Government for providing an enabling environment and policy guidance for the project.
MDBNL chief executive officer Denis Chirwa yesterday said FAM were better placed to comment on the issue.
In October, FAM announced that the deal with MDBNL would commence at the start of the season.
However, when the 2020/21 TNM Super League kicked off on Saturday, the deal was yet to be concluded, raising fears that it would be another flop after unsuccessful previous deals.
Matola, who is also the.
Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said pay television is the way to go.
He said: “After the failed TV broadcasting rights deals in the past, we have been advocating for pay TV because from the onset, we will be able to know how much teams stand to get. It is a straight-forward arrangement.
“As the most followed team and an attractive brand, it will help us and we will also play a role in sensitising our fans on the need to subscribe for the channel. We cannot wait and hopefully the deal will be concluded soon.”
However, on his part, Civil Service (Civo) United general secretary Ronald Chiwaula said: “Some of these things you tend to wonder and question the seriousness in it. We are yet to appreciate how FAM will roll out this initiative.
“Nevertheless, should it succeed, we will definitely support it as it will be a breakthrough for Malawi football and our expectations are above the moon, we can’t wait,” he said.
The plan, which was initiated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, through the Malawi National Council of Sports, will see football fans paying monthly subscription to access live football matches throughout the season.