Lee Chong Wei, Thomas Cup 2014 Semi Finals

UPDATE (852PM): Astro has reversed its decision and has now allowed RTM to broadcast the match!


Original story:

As you might have heard, our national badminton players have managed to book themselves a spot in the finals of Thomas Cup after beating Indonesia 3 – 0 in the semi-finals yesterday. Pardon the excitement but it has been a long while since Malaysia last won the competition. 22 years, to be exact.

If you are Astro subscribers, then you will be able to catch the final match against Japan live from New Delhi at 5:30pm tomorrow. But if you are not an Astro subscriber and is hoping to see our fellow national badminton players attempting to win Thomas Cup once again on RTM…well, you will be disappointed.

At this moment, RTM will not be able to broadcast the finals of Thomas Cup between Malaysia and Japan due to the fact that RTM is not able to afford the fee that Astro demanded for the broadcast rights which is said to be around RM 4 million. Where did RTM’s budget goes then?

According to the Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, most of RTM’s budget has been used to acquire the broadcast rights for other events including the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup whereby it has access to 24 live and 11 delayed matches. Ahmad Shabery didn’t mention the actual costs for these rights but he did stated “millions on ringgits”.

Chong Wei Feng, Thomas Cup 2014 Semi Finals

While some might see Astro as trying to take advantage of the situation but RTM is not fully innocent though. I mean, why RTM doesn’t have the rights in the first place since Malaysia is part of Thomas Cup?

Even though Malaysians are really crazy about football which means World Cup broadcast is a must (and RTM has been doing it since 1974), badminton is still one of the country’s core sports and commands plenty of fans as well. Let’s not forget the fact that Thomas Cup is one of the most prestigious event in badminton. How can RTM overlooked at this facts then?

Since the news broke out earlier today, plenty of fans especially social media users have already campaigning to urge Astro to reduce or waive the fee so that non-Astro subscribers are able to catch the finals of Thomas Cup for free via RTM. That includes a plea from the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin himself right here.

140524thomascup4all

True enough, #ThomasCup4All has immediately become among the top trending topic for Malaysian users. Despite all this, I personally doubt that Astro will change its stance though. After all, Astro is still a business and RM 4 million is a lot of money. Hence, I would suggest you to start finding alternative way to catch the match and to support our national badminton players at the Thomas Cup finals.

[Source: The Star, Khairy Jamaluddin @ Facebook]

UPDATE (845PM):  We have received the official statement from Astro regarding this matter:

The truth of the matter is that cost of Sport rights globally are increasing. Thomas and Uber cup rights are no different.

Rights owners IMG sets the price, and like other broadcasters, Astro, appreciating the importance of badminton to Malaysians paid the predetermined commercial rates for the broadcast rights. The rights offered to RTM are for Free to Air broadcast, and reflective of its cost.

The Thomas Cup Finals will be available to all Malaysians on 25 May, 5.30pm for free on Astro Arena Channel via Astro on the Go app.

- CK Lee as Head of Sports, Astro

While this might not the best solution for all especially to those that might not have access to Internet or digital gadgets, at least it’s still something. This also means you will be able to tune in even if you are not in front of your PC. So, make sure to check out the match at 5:30pm to give your support to our national badminton players!