Local television (TV) stations in the country have urged Sulom and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to come up with a deal for both parties to benefit to broadcast live TNM Super League games once the 2020/21 season starts.
The sentiments came after Super League of Malawi (Sulom) invited sports agencies, marketing agencies and broadcasters to bid for broadcasting rights for radio, television and digital platforms and Covid-19 pandemic.
In an interview on Wednesday MBC TV, T TV (formerly Times TV), Mibawa TV and ZBS TV officials said they have the capacity to meet the expected standards of beaming football matches live.
In an interview, MBC director general Aubrey Sumbuleta said they are capable of beaming football games live.
He said: “Apart from broadcasting live various big events, including political rallies. We have broadcast live international matches whose feed has been shared to reputable international broadcasters.
“As long as [Sulom, FAM and clubs] meet our terms, MBC, as a public broadcaster, is always ready to go and give Malawians the best football coverage.”
Mibawa TV managing director John Nthakomwa said his station has the experience and technical personnel to handle live football matches.
“For the past two years, Mibawa has broadcast more live games as compared to any local broadcaster. This has given us experience and we have also invested in the personnel and equipment.
“Football has been, and is our prime focus. The public can be assured that we can deliver. We have also been acknowledged by Fifa, Cosafa and CAF for our contribution despite the challenges,” he said.
On his part, ZBS TV director of engineering and technical services Haswell Solomon said they have the technical expertise to handle live football match coverage.
“What is important is to look at how the revenues will be generated to cover the cost of production. It is important to sit down and look at how we can make viewers pay for the matches,” he said.
However, TTV (formerly Times TV) commercial manager Lusayo Msukwa said live football coverage is expensive; hence there is a need to look at production costs.
“The other side [Sulom] should come out clear on the revenue because it is expensive. Otherwise, just like other stations, we are capable and have expressed interest to beam the Super League matches once games commences,” he said.
Mzuzu Warriors general secretary Donnex Chilongo said in an interview: “We are of the view that if the league resumes without spectators, Sulom and FAM should extend Covid-19 relief fund to clubs for transport, accommodation and meals.”
In an interview, Sulom president Tiya Somba Banda said the successful bidder should have a proven record in the broadcasting industry.
“It is true that the last deal with Beta TV did not work according to Sulom’s expectations. This time around, we will be strict in the process of selecting the winning bid,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said he is optimistic that Sulom will make the most of the deal for the good of teams.
“World over, the most guaranteed means of football revenue is through broadcasting rights. In our case, clubs are barely surviving and some falling by the way side due to lack of sustainable business model such as broadcasting rights.
“So, FAM fully supports any initiative that will sustainably bring revenue to our teams, including exploration of media broadcasting rights. This road was travelled before and we are upbeat that Sulom will do due diligence to yield anticipated returns,” he said.
However, sports business analyst Kevin Moyo said there are challenges for local TV stations to beam games.
He said: “It is a complex matter. To begin with, broadcasters are struggling locally due to free to air TV which does not rack in revenue for broadcasters. Worldwide, TV revenue comes from pay TV which is an encrypted signal only accessible to those that pay a subscription fee.
“In addition, government needs to empower the Malawi Broadcasting Digital Authority to come up with a pay TV model. For this year, it is my plea that Sulom and FAM should subsidise broadcasting rights from Fifa and CAF Covid-19 relief funds for the successful bidder.”
Moyo also urged football authorities to come up with standard equipment to beam games.
“Fifa, CAF, Cosafa have a standard requirement which they look for to enable broadcasters to beam their games live. It is also important to mention that Malawi should empower broadcasters economically by creating conducive business environment and to come up with good broadcasting policies for broadcasters to thrive,” he added.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina said the idea of putting games on TV could have been explored long time ago as advocated by the majority of stakeholders.
Last time Sulom awarded rights to disbanded Beta TV. However, the deal flopped as Sulom, Beta TV and clubs did not benefit.n