Friday, September 16, 2016

The challenge of enforcing TNM Super League Rights

In Blantyre, the home of Malawi's soccer mecca Kamuzu Stadium, it is difficult to capture moving images, or videos, of TNM Super League games.
And it is understandable.
For the first time, Malawians have embraced the concept of buying rights to beam Super League games. Which is a step in, eeeh, the right direction because ours is a semi-professional league. It is a league where a Nyasa Big Bullets player would be playing in a heated match against Mighty Be Forward Wanderers during the day, and, then, report for duties as a guard somewhere in the evening.
Sure enough, a semi-professional league where a Mighty Be Forward Wanderers player would feature in a tough game against Capital City giants, Silver Strickers, and, then, report for duties as a barman in the evening.
Yes. A semi-professional league where a Silver Strickers' player would feature in a game as Lilongwe City rivals, Civo, and then resume his duty as foreman at a tobacco estate in Lilongwe Rural.
Yes, a semi-professional league where a Civil Service United player would participate in a match against Moyale Barracks and report for duties as a messenger the next day.
Or, a semi-professional league where unemployed youth join Malawi Defence Force sides, namely Mafco, Moyale Barracks, Red Lions, among others, just to secure a job as a private soldier in the military.
The same applies to Malawi Police Service side, Blue Eagles. The side provides an escape route into employment to some young men who impress with their legs and not brains.
So, when Beta TV signed a multi-million Super League right buy-out contract, it was like someone had breathed a bucketful of flesh air in the, otherwise, semi-professional TNM Super League.
And, all of a sudden, Zodiak Broadcasting Station Television could no longer broadcast the matches live. A new landlord was clearly in charge.
Suddenly, Times Television could not capture footage for its sports programmes. If anything, their only hope of bringing a sense of life to life in the Super League are still photos. Nothing else. A montage of still photos and nothing else.
Even Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, long used to getting things tickled over its back know, has found itself in new territory.
No need to talk of Joy Television, or AFJ Television, or of the other televisions station so in the country.
At least radio stations are at an advantage. They can still broadcast live. So long as they get a sponsor. Another sponsor other than TNM. Or, if they are lucky, TNM itself.
It must be said that Malawi has 73 radio stations, according to the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority.
From the look of things, therefore, the practice of buying rights has come to stay. For sure, it will be difficult for Beta Television to recover K300 million-plus it has invested in Malawi soccer. But it is clear that the Super League of Malawi has made a killing out of this experiment carried out in a semi-professional league that is the TNM Super League.
However,while televisions stations are finding it tough to capture moving images without buying rights from Beta Television, I was disappointed when I went to watch a match between Mighty Be Forward Wanderers and Red Lions at the bumpy-as-a-crocodile-tail Zomba Community Centre Ground mid-week.
Reporters and cameramen captured video footage unperturbed. It was as if they owned the ground, and the rights.
Here were personnel from different television stations capturing video footage for 10 to 30 minutes non-stop. And there was nobody to stop them.
Will the TNM Super League rights issues be enforced only at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, Silver and Civo stadia in Lilongwe and Mzuz Stadium in the Northern Region?
Surely, someone, somewhere, rolled out an initiative when the preparations were only half done.
Really, do we expect Beta Television to enforce the rights? Should Beta employ police officers to carry out the job or it is the responsibility of the Super League of Malawi?
To say the truth, rules should be enforced in full measure, and not half measures; in all football grounds, and not some and not others!

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