MYTV needs to meet DTT rollout deadline

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will take action against MYTV Broadcasting Sdn Bhd should it fail to complete the digital terrestrial television (DTT) rollout before the first quarter 2019 deadline.

“There are provisions in the legal documentation which will allow the government to take action in the event of failure,” said MCMC chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak.

Asked whether the DTT contract would be opened for tendering in the event of MYTV’s failure, Al-Ishsal said: “in the event of failure, all options will be considered. At the moment, the project is on track.”

He also emphasised that the analog switch-off (ASO) date remained as of the first quarter of 2019.

Over the past few weeks, there have been ongoing payment disputes between MYTV and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), which has resulted in 20 broadcasting sites being shut down and free-to-air services in a few areas to be disrupted.

On Nov 3, MYTV sought the MCMC’s intervention to help resolve ongoing disputes with TM.

StarBiz reported that services for the free-to-air TV migration from analogue to digital were suspended in several states over disputes of non-payment between MYTV and TM.

Hundreds of viewers in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Perak were affected.

If not resolved soon, it could potentially result in a delay in the release of the 700MHz spectrum, where some RM5bil will be raised once the spectrum is allocated to the telcos.

Sources said MYTV might be delaying completion of works because of funding issues.

“MYTV has been bogged down by funding issues since it started, but it became worse recently. It is now heavily in debt with several of its vendors,” said a source.

MYTV CEO Michael Chan could not be reached for comments at press time.

MYTV, which is owned by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary via Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd, was the broadcast service provider that was selected back in 2014 to spearhead the national DTT rollout, known as myFreeview.

Back then, it beat out tech companies such as REDtone Network Sdn Bhd and i-Media Broadcasting Solutions Sdn Bhd for the contract.

When it secured the project, MYTV said it was committed to achieving the government’s target to fully-migrate the terrestrial television transmission from analogue to digital under the national broadcasting digitalisation project.

To date, MYTV has invested some RM450mil as compared with the commitment of RM1.5bil made in November 2014. Currently, there are 34 DTT transmission sites covering 92.7% of the population nationwide.

The source added that MYTV had recently made a proposal to TM, asking the telecommunications company to buy it over in order for the ASO to go ahead as planned. TM, however, did not agree.

On another note, speculation has intensified over the involvement of former Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani as the hidden hand behind MYTV. Johari’s name did not appear in any of MYTV’s shareholding documents.

When StarBiz sent a text message to Johari on whether he is a major shareholder of MYTV, he replied: “No, I am not a shareholder of MyTV.”

The current MCMC chairman, Al-Ishsal, was the former chief executive officer of Pos Malaysia Bhd. He resigned from Pos Malaysia on Sept 30 and took on his MCMC role on Oct 1.

Meanwhile, the new Pos Malaysia CEO is Syed Md Najib Syed Md Noor, who is also the MYTV chairman.

Syed Mokhtar is the major shareholder of Pos Malaysia via DRB-Hicom Bhd.

Al-Ishsal added that the commitment made through the Senior Officers Meeting Responsible for Information Work Group - Asean Digital Broadcasting was for countries within Asean to achieve ASO by 2020.

“Malaysia is on track to honour its Asean-level commitment. It is to be noted that this is an area which requires cross-border coordination and we are working closely with all stakeholders domestically and internationally to achieve the targeted ASO,” he said.

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