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Sulom justifies TV rights award

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Super League of Malawi (Sulom) Treasurer, Tiya Somba-Banda, has explained why the league’s governing body shocked the football world by opting for Beta Television as the most successful bidder for exclusive TNM Super League broadcasting rights when there are serious questions about its human and technical capacity.

“The evaluation of the bids involved a due diligence assessment where by the evaluation team visited all the prospective broadcasters and inspected their equipment, premises and personnel. Beta TV came up tops in these aspects and on that comfort the exclusive rights have been awarded,” Somba-Banda explained.

“The recent Malawi vs Guinea game broadcast on SABC, MBC and SuperSport was shot and done by Beta TV. The rights are specifically for television only and have nothing to do with radio. Therefore, other broadcasters will continue to broadcast radio commentary as before but if they would want to beam on TV then they have to buy the rights or footage through Beta TV and not Sulom.”

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Misa Malawi-award winner, Times Group, was among the bidders having submitted a package of K149.3 million, with K37.5 million and K266 million being for MTV and Beta, respectively. The rights cover 240 league games per season.

However, the 2016 season is now into its sixth week.

Unlike the other bidders, Times Group is the only one with a competitive advantage of owning all media platforms—including radio and newspapers—in addition to a wealth of experience, depth of expertise, wider audience and state-of-the art equipment.

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In reaction, Times Group Chief Commercial Manager, Dumisani Ngulube, yesterday said there is no doubt that the oldest and biggest media empire has the best technical and human resource capabilities.

“We have no apologies to make. We remain Malawi’s number one media house.

“With the 120-plus years of experience in the media industry, there was no better football commercialisation partner than us. Malawi should learn to do the right things right. With such misguided tender processes, it is not surprising that football in this country has not developed,” Ngulube explained.

“The process, in our view, fell short on many fronts. We are not amused with the outcome of the tender process. We submitted a calabash model that stands on the pillars of sustainability in football commercialisation. Going forward, our position is that we have no intention to buy any TV rights from any media house”.

Beta had, as we went to press yesterday, not responded to a questionnaire on whether they have the technical and financial muscle to broadcast matches live.

Giving an independent opinion, Chimwemwe Nyirenda, Multichoice Malawi Sales and Marketing Manager, said yesterday there was need to ensure that crowd-pullers, such Nyasa Big Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers, benefit more from the deal.

“It seems they [Sulom] just based their decision on the highest bidder. I am not sure if teams were consulted in terms of the breakdown of how much they will be getting. They have to ensure that a big chunk goes to clubs. Teams cannot receive equally. It’s about the viewership and records of attendance. Teams which contribute more revenue should also get better,” Nyirenda explained.

Sulom General Secretary, Williams Banda, said yesterday the league will sit down with teams to agree on the model of sharing the TV proceeds.

“There is the UK and Spanish model of sharing the proceeds. That will be done when negotiating the contract with Beta. We have offered them the contract and there is need for them to accept the offer,” Williams Banda said, adding that Times Group was the second successful bidder.

In developed football nations such as England, teams get equal earnings from TV rights, whereas in Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the biggest earners, but the league administrators in the European country are adopting the England model to level the financial and with it, play-field.

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