The saga of the telecast rights, over terresterial television, for the M-League is expected to come to an end soon with RTM paying a whopping RM6 million to the compny that bought the marketing rights for the M-League from the Football Association of Malaysia.
Let us be clear from the begining that the marketing company/right holders are within their jurisdiction on just how much to ask for as they would have penciled in the figure when they tabled their bid to the FAM at the end of last year.
What we re trying to do is provide an explanation with regards to the whole saga that dragged on for three months, when it could have been easily resolved if the parties had sat down and reasoned with each other.
The figure of RM6 million was the bone of contention as RTM had asked for a reduction to RM4 million as their previous agreements with MSL Sdn Bhd, prior to the 2008-2010 contractual season. But the right holders would have none of it and insisted that RTM had to pay RM6 million per eason if they wanted to screen the matches.
But despite paying such an hefty sum, it does not gurantee RTM the exclusivity as the rights holder itself is a cable TV station, and they can show any matches they opt to. This clause, differentiating cable and terresterial TV was included in the broadcasting agreement from 2008.
Now lets rewind back to when a cable TV station actually made a bid to show live matches on their station. This was in 2008 and there were two offers made, by a newly set-up Sports TV network operator in Malaysia, through the good offices of OCM, as well as a private TV station in Singapore.
The figure that the Malaysian TV was told was RM2 million per season and that RTM had the first pick of matches. And the offer from the Singapore company was flatly rejected by the Chairman of MSL as it was linked to sports betting.
However the Malaysian cable TV were only willing to cough up RM1 million and it was rejected as RTM were told during the discussions that nothing less then RM2 million will be accepted from any cable station.
And when the current holders purchased the rights for last season under cable TV, a clause that was inserted in 2008, they paid RM1 million, though no one wants to clarify on this issue.
Now while we should view at the whole scenario as a business proposition, as to how the current right holders would be looking at it, the whole idea of the RM6 million came due to added clauses in the contract with RTM.
The government channel wre given rights to all international matches as well as the FA Cup and other M-League rights besides the customary branding rights on the pitch. And they were allowed to source sponsorship from TM which was the then official sponsor of the M-League. Prior to 2008, the FA Cup rights were sold to another TV station, but that is another story.
The catch was that while providing the live feed for overseas market, RTM were not allowed to collect any payment from the foreign TV networks ( as in the case of the Merdeka Tournament), as all payments were to be channeled to FAM. This included matches involving Brunei.
Hence RTM was right to stand firm on giving RM4 million, as they have previously done, without any issues. And the poor folks who cannot afford the dishes would have enjoyed the Terima Kasih, Terima Kasih, Terima Kasih from the chirpy Hafizal Hamad.
Still we applaud the gesture from the right holders in offering RTM and also their coverage has been great so far, no complaints there.
Folks in RTM have been bombarded with comments from football fans who did not understand the intricities involved in the rights issue.
Now with RTM agreeing to pay, the issue will be resolved. But at what expense? RM6 million which is yours and my money - the tax payers.
But I do have a suggestion to the Sports Minister though. Why did you not utilise the part of the RM14 million that was given to a private TV station, which closed their operations in Malaysia last December, and give it to RTM to help the public realise their dreams of watching their football stars in action?
Or is it in fixed deposit, collecting interest, as is the RM10 million that the Prime Minister announced in January 2010 after we won the Sea Games gold medal in 2009?
But in the end, it is resolved, as will the saga of Misbun Sidek, the KOAM issue, the blatant under counter payment requested by certain organisations for the rental of football fields nd so forth.....