Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has deferred to next year results of bids media houses submitted for combined football matches television rights.
In February this year, FAM invited bids from interested media houses for matches involving national football teams, Chifundo Charity Shield, TNM Super League, Airtel Top 8, Carlsberg Cup and Fisd Challenge Cup.
FAM engaged a team comprising professionals from Media Council of Malawi, marketing, auditing, television broadcasters, FAM and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) representatives to evaluate the bids.
However, with almost a month before the 2018 season concludes, FAM is yet to announce the successful media house.
FAM commercial and marketing director Limbani Matola said they have deferred the process to next season, adding that they are monitoring the media houses that submitted bids on their capabilities.
“It’s not just a matter of someone having a media house and showing interest to get the rights. You will agree with me that much as BBC or CNN are big media institutions, sports is not their area.
“So, we are monitoring those that showed interest to see if they are capable of what they put in their bids. The interaction which is happening now will be part of assessment for the media houses,” he said.
Matola also revealed that FAM wants the successful media house to also handle Malawi national football team matches’ production.
“We want whoever is successful to at least have minimum standards required by CAF [Confederation of African Football] so that when Malawi is playing at home, that media house should also be engaged for the production of Flames matches. That’s why we have not rushed to conclude the process,” he said.
The delay, however, has affected clubs who feel they are being short-changed by the piecemeal selling of matches broadcasting rights.
But Sulom treasurer Tiya Somba-Banda said the process is a challenge due to Malawi’s small economy.
“It’s not easy. Our economy is small for some of these projects. Television access is less than a million and that speaks volumes about challenges when on courting advertisers,” he said.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda agreed that piecemeal deals were compromising revenue, but promised to conclude the process by the time the 2019 season kicks off.
“As of now we still have to rely on piecemeal selling of matches rights. But come next season we will bundle them so that we have better revenue from the rights deal,” he said.
Elsewhere, teams rely heavily on revenue from television rights for their operations. But in Malawi, this is one area that has been facing challenges. Initially, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) was handling the TV rights but after the deal with Beta TV collapsed in 2017, FAM decided to take over with the aim of improving things.
On his part, Be Forward Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao said: “If I am to be honest with you, we go into every season without much expectations because we have come to accept that nothing meterialises.
“So, while it is disappointing, incomprehensible and a big financial opportunity lost that in this day and age we can still not strike a TV rights deal, we have had to come to terms with that.”