PETALING JAYA: The move to enable football fans to watch live World Cup matches for free on RTM is appealing but the national broadcaster will not likely get to air all 64 of the scheduled matches.
Astro Head of Sports CK Lee explained that there are two types of broadcasting rights for the World Cup tournament – Pay TV and Free-To-Air rights (FTA).
In Malaysia, the Pay TV broadcasting rights is held by Astro.
“Astro has the broadcast rights to all 64 matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia.
“All Malaysians, even non-Astro customers, can purchase Astro World Cup Channel Pass to watch all matches on Astro GO.
“Selected matches will also be available for free on Astro Arena to all Malaysians via NJOI Now and Astro GO apps,” he said.
On Monday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the ministry had backed the proposal for RTM to air live matches of the coming World Cup for free, adding that it was an important move for RTM to transform and boost viewership.
The second type of broadcasting rights is the FTA rights for TV networks such as RTM.
It is learnt that when the minister said RTM will look into the proposal to air the World Cup live, some people might have thought that RTM would buy the rights for all 64 matches but in fact, RTM is likely to buy only the FTA rights from MLeague Marketing which is only for selected free matches.
On the rights to organise World Cup viewing parties hosted by private entities and attended by large crowds, Lee said organisers must pay a certain amount to world football governing body Fifa to acquire the rights.
“The event must be approved by Fifa. The amount to be paid depends on the size of the crowd as well as the type of venue.
“Fifa is very strict about such matters,” he said.
A post on a blog run by a former journalist stated that RTM was offered the rights for 42 matches, including the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, selected matches in the knockout stages and the final but a final decision has not been made.
The blog post said that airing the matches would cost RTM RM31mil.
Thirty-two nations are competing in the 2018 World Cup that will take place from June 14 to July 15.
During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, RTM got the rights to screen 35 matches, comprising 24 live and 11 delayed telecasts.
Astro is offering all the 64 matches live on high definition.