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Analysts fault TV rights deal

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Beta Television Station Manager, Theunis Bester, has said they are working on resuming the beaming of TNM Super League games through ways such as having their licence changed.

Beta, who received exclusive television broadcasting rights for Super League games on a three-year contract last year, last month suspended coverage due to lack of funds.

Super League of Malawi (Sulom) granted Beta the rights at the expense of the second highest bidder, Times Television, which presented a calabash business model that was not only to rake in revenue from advertising by also subscription to a particular channel. Matindi TV was the third highest bidder.

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Bester, whose company has been unable to generate income from advertising in this squeezed economy, said, apart from hunting for sponsorship, they were working on making the broadcasting business viable.

“We have applied to have Beta licence changed to an encrypted channel so that it can make business sense. And we are also looking at satellite options where we will be will create income. We are hopeful of a breakthrough soon to allow us put football back on air,” Bester explained.

Actually, only households that pay subscription fees access encrypted television channels.

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Some commentators have since questioned the viability of putting the games on free-to-air channels as Beta did, but Bester said free broadcasting of games should have worked if the country’s economy was better.

Mal awi Broadca s t ing Corporation Head of Sports, Frank Kandu, speaking in his personal capacity, said Beta should have done a market analysis.

“Did Beta expect to make money by beaming the games on free-to-air [channel]? If SuperSport Television were broadcasting on free-to-air [channels], they could have folded long back. Advertising alone cannot make good money in live football broadcasting business. Have we ever asked ourselves why DStv Premium subscription is that high? It is because of the sports channels,” Kandu said.

He urged Malawi soccer administrators to wake up and understand the television football broadcasting business.

Speaking in his personal capacity, Chimwemwe Nyirenda, Marketing Manager for Multichoice Malawi—local DStv franchise holders— blamed Sulom officials for concentrating on highest bidder when awarding the deal while disregarding other factors.

Nyirenda said, instead of just going for the highest bidder, Sulom should have first valued the league to make an informed decision on the selection.

“And I also think that at the end of last season, Sulom should have made a gentleman’s agreement to terminate the contract [with Beta], reason being that during the off-season other television stations could tender.

“Alternatively, what Sulom can do is to make an open tender so that other television stations interested [ in beaming games] should come forward, but they need to agree on a percentage they should be giving to Sulom and teams, and that the television stations will be the ones looking for sponsorship.

“So, at the end of the season, they would be able to know how much they made from television and radio broadcasting rights. And this will help them have an idea at the end of the season of the league’s value,” Nyirenda said.

Sulom General Secretary, Williams Banda, said their legal advisor would advise them on the next course of action on the Beta deal.

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