LILONGWE (Malawi Talk) – The Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) efforts to roll out a dedicated football channel hit snag when officials from the Malawi Digital Broadcasting Network Limited (MDBNL) failed to show up for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony in Blantyre on Friday.
Apart form the signing ceremony, FAM was also expected to unveil content providers for the football channel, which will be available on MDBNL’s Kiliye Kiliye decoder.
Successful bidders or content providers that were to be unveiled are Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Mibawa Television.
FAM, in conjunction with the Super League of Malawi (Sulom), partnered with MDBNL to create a dedicated football based channel on Kiliye Kiliye decoders as one way of maximizing revenue from Televisions Rights.
And the MoU between FAM and MDBNL didn’t take place after officials from the Ministry of information, including the Principal Secretary and MDBNL officials did not show up at the event forcing FAM to postpone it.
With other guests from Super League teams and the media already seated, FAM General Secretary, Alfred Funds said officials from BDBNL could not make it due to “technical and logistical challenges” as such they could not proceed with ceremony.
“We have just received communication from our partners that they are unable to come due to technical and logistical challenges and we have resolved to postpone the ceremony until further notice.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting and we appreciate your understanding,” said Gunda, who was flanked by Sulom President Tiya Somba Banda and Sulom Executive Member Malinda Chinyama.
However, it has been established that the event failed to take place after the Minister of Information Mr Gospel Kazako directed officials from his ministry and BDBNL not to be part of the event.
Kazako is reportedly bitter that his media institution, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) is not among the content providers for the earmarked football channel.
Inside sources claimed that the Principal Secretary for Information, who was supposed to be the guest of honour, was ordered to return to Lilongwe when she was on her to way to Blantyre.
“Some officials from the Ministry of Information and BDBNL were already in Blantyre for the event, but the Principal Secretary left Lilongwe early in the Morning, only to be told to return to Lilongwe when she had already reached Ntcheu,” explained the source.
The process to establish the football based channel was initiated by the Ministry of Sport, through Malawi National Council of Sports.
Viewers, mainly soccer lovers will be paying monthly subscription to watch live local football matches throughout the season.
FAM prompted to initiate the viability of Football TV broadcasting via a pay channel due to continued dwindling of resources in football and the need to have consistency in the beaming of Live football matches.
“The current television broadcasting set up has proven to be loss making and therefore financially unsustainable for all players.
“Local media houses, who are on Free to Air Transmission, are supplying content to commercial players without any return on their production investment or indeed to FAM, Sulom and Clubs as rights holders,” Mr Gomezgani Zakazaka, Competitions and Media Managers at FAM, said recently.
According to him, FAM recognises that in most countries around the world, including neighboring countries like Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa, football has developed due to massive revenue from Television Rights.
“However, Malawi has remained behind as it has struggled to fully exploit the TV Rights avenue due to lack of interest by commercial players in the TV industry to invest in the game,” he added.
MDBNL is a public entity mandated to provide signal distribution services to all licensed content providers and broadcasters.
Registered under Companies Act on 20th February, 2014 but officially started its operations on 1st July, 2015, MDBNL has Kiliyekiliye platform which FAM wants to use as a dedicated football channel.
FAM and Ministry of Sports came up with the football dedicated channel idea following a high demand for local football on television due to the Covid-19 social distancing guidelines which led to the cutting of capacity at match venues to half.