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Times puts record straight

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By Isaac Salima:

The country’s biggest media empire, Times Group, has moved to clarify issues surrounding its submission of a bid for TNM Super League broadcast rights.

Football Association of Malawi and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) had asked television stations across the country to submit bids for broadcast of games in the top flight league which is expected to kick off without supporters.

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During its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe on Saturday, Sulom announced that Times Group had been disqualified for failure to submit a financial proposal for the bid.

Times Commercial Manager, Lusayo Msukwa, said Times Television submitted a tender which included a financial proposal.

Msukwa said they fulfilled all documents in line with the bid’s requirements, including financial statements.

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“We even submitted documents outlining our technical capability to broadcast matches live. I can categorically state without fear of contradiction that Times Television has the capacity to broadcast matches live.

“It remains an open secret that it was Times Television that managed to broadcast numerous political rallies during the elections in 2019 and this year. We were even able to cover rallies from even remote areas. Times TV has also managed to broadcast functions for private and public organisations,” Msukwa said.

He further said that as media house, Times TV strives to collaborate with sports institutions in achieving the desired goals in sports coverage.

“We realise the need to work hand-in-hand with other stakeholders in the coverage of sports activities across the country. The current Malawian commercial market is still in its infancy stage for a single television station to buy rights and pay football clubs and other associated institutions. We need a vehicle that can bring together sponsors, clubs and administrators to a roundtable with a win-win situation for all parties involved,” Msukwa said.

Besides Times, Zodiak Broadcasting Station and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) also submitted their bids.

Times submitted a K191 million bid against MBC’s K64 million. Zodiak handed in an K18 million bid.

Following Times’ disqualification, Zodiak will compete for the rights with MBC.

Msukwa, however, said with the current economic environment, it is impossible for media houses to pay for broadcasting rights in advance.

“Television stations do not have money. Sulom wants media houses to say ‘we want to broadcast matches and here is a cheque’. This is impossible in the prevailing economic climate. It seems we have not learned lessons from the past. The current approach means no football can happen on TV at the moment,” he said.

Sulom executive member Chimwemwe Nyirenda, who heads the bid committee, declined to comment on the matter and referred the Daily Times to his General Secretary Williams Banda.

Ironically, Banda said he was not aware of Times’ disqualification and asked to crosscheck with Nyirenda.

During the AGM, Nyirenda said they were still scrutinising the bids before announcing the successful television station.

Broadcasting matches live on television has proved to be a tough venture in Malawi.

About four years ago, Sulom awarded the broadcast right to Beta TV but the venture flopped as only a few matches, mainly from Blantyre’s Kamuzu Stadium, were live on the screen.

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