Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama has called for a stakeholders meeting to resolve misunderstandings between Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) on football broadcasting rights.
The minister confirmed the development yesterday, saying he would like the issue to be resolved amicably after MBC cried foul over FAM’s decision to opt for Mibawa Television (TV) to produce football content for live coverage on Zuku TV despite coming out first in the bidding process.
He said: “After hearing MBC’s complaint on the matter, I realised the issue was too deep and required us to engage all the stakeholders. Therefore, I have instructed the Sports Council to call for a round table discussion among all the stakeholders including FAM, MBC, Macra [Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority] and my ministry to ensure the issue is resolved amicably.”
Msungama said the involvement of Macra in the matter will help understand whether those that will be broadcasting the football matches will be able to reach out to the remotest areas of the country.
“With Covid-19, many people are unable to watch games at match venues and, as government, we want people across the country to access the games in the comfort of their homes throught TV. However, this will not be achieved if the broadcasting rights are given to broadcasters that can only reach out to a few areas,” he said.
“Although, it is a great idea for football to go commercial for teams to benefit, it should also be well understood that all Malawians, regardless of their location, should be able to access the matches.”
MBC director general George Kasakula yesterday said they decided to report FAM to the government because they believe FAM “overlooked” the national broadcaster despite coming out the best during the bidding process.
He said: “We approached the government through the minister to help FAM understand that we came out first in the bidding process and that we have the biggest coverage in the country; hence, we deserve to acquire the broadcasting rights.”
Kasakula said MBC was ready to take the issue to the Competitions and Fair Trade Commission or even the courts of law if FAM clings on to their decision to let other broadcasters have the broadcasting rights.
FAM marketing and broadcasting manager Tulipo Mwenelupembe said their allocation of the broadcasting rights to a company is not only based on having everyone watching the matches but generating enough money for the welfare of the teams.
“Our main concern for a subscription-based TV is the welfare of the clubs and their players. We would like football to add value to itself without bothering the sponsors,” he said.
On MBC’s complaint that they were overlooked despite coming out as the best in the bidding process, Mwenelupembe referred the matter to FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda, who was not available for comment. n