Next month, RTM channels on TM’s HyppTV will be blacked out whenever a World Cup 2014 match takes place as the talks between TM and Astro – the exclusive broadcast rights holder for the event – didn’t end on a positive note for TM. The company claimed that Astro requested an unspecified amount of fee that is too costly for TM before HyppTV is allowed to display 35 matches that are shown on RTM channels which are part of HyppTV’s free-to-view channels.
Truth to be told, blackouts on RTM channels during sporting events are nothing new for HyppTV as the service encounter it all the time. For example, the periodic broadcast of Malaysian football matches on RTM such as those from Liga Super and Piala Malaysia receives the same blackout treatment on HyppTV since the rights are owned by…as you might have guessed, Astro.
According to Jeremy Kung, the Executive Vice President of TM’s New Media division who is in charge of HyppTV, TM’s actually has a policy whereby it will not pay for the rights to broadcast any contents that are shown through Free-To-Air (FTA) channels such as RTM. He also stated that TM believes that such contents should remain free for all. One example that he mentioned to us is how Media Prima has no problem letting HyppTV show the UEFA Euro 2012 matches that were being broadcast on TV3 and NTV7 during the tournament.
While he didn’t pointed it outright, it seems that there are exceptions to the policy from time to time since TM clearly has put some effort into opening the path for RTM’s World Cup 2014 broadcast to be shown on HyppTV although as you might know, the negotiation between the company and Astro eventually failed. In fact, even the recent Thomas Cup finals on TV1 was apparently supposed to be blacked out as well but out of national interest, TM has agreed to pay an unspecified amount to Astro to avoid the blackout on HyppTV.
So, the argument TM presented to us during the media briefing is that TM doesn’t charge its customers for any of the FTA channels on HyppTV and thus, not making any profits out of these channels. Any UniFi and Streamyx customers with HyppTV are be able to attest to this because not only just RTM channel but all seven FTA terrestrial channels in Malaysia are indeed available on HyppTV without any additional costs. It is not that Astro will be losing money since RTM has apparently paid millions to Astro for the broadcast rights.
While TM might have a point to convey here that but let’s not overlook the fact that Astro has made significant financial commitments in order to obtain these highly valuable broadcast rights. As a business entity, it is natural for Astro to make the best out of their investments and that is exactly what the company is doing right now. However, when its contemporaries such as TM and Media Prima complained that the cost is too high, some might see this as an unfair usage of its dominant (some even say monopoly) status in the market by Astro.
Nevertheless, what we have here is ultimately just one side of the story. Let’s see if other parties would like to chip in their view on this matter as well.
We have reached out to Astro, Media Prima, RTM and KKMM for their comments.
[Image of RTM’s blackout on HyppTV: Hazimworks]