It what can ony be described as a bitter blow to the yet to be launched Astro Arena, FAM pulled the plug on them at the very last minute for the broadcast of the Malaysian Super League matches.

And the key player it is said was RTM, which holds the “rights” albeit limited to free to air TV only.

This is how the story goes. Astro made an offer to FAM to be the broadcast partner for cable ( pay TV) and FAM accepted the deal via MSL Sdn Bhd, its marketing arm.

So Astro went ahead and employed some 13 staff and even bought two OB vans to transmit the matches live to the Malaysian public, a fact that was even publicised by FAM in some of the main stream media news reports.

Such a deal was on the cards when OCM via Peninsular Digital approached MSL some two years ago and the then asking price by MSL was RM2 million. Though it never eventually took off as the sports station never made its debut, RTM at that time did not object to this arrangement as Astro was to telecast matches in id-week, something that RTM could not do due to their tight airtime scheduling.

Anyway this time around it seems that FAM went on and gave the go ahead to Astro and agreed on a figure much lower then the RM2 million that was the figure agreed upon in 2008.

But RTM sent FAM a strongly worded letter, even to the extent of telling FAM that RTM will not make the payment of RM6 million annually for the agreement signed in 2008, thanks to the good offices of YB Khairy and the then RTM DG. For those unaware, the initial TV deal prior to that was RM4 million annually and FAM got an increase of 50% in 2008, for a three season contract.

On Monday, Astro were prevented from entering the stadium as FAM pulled the plug on that deal, hence Astro were now saddled with equipment and staff that they had already invested in.

There are some unanswered questions here though.

Why did FAM go ahead and agree with Astro if they had not consulted with RTM in the first place or had not informed RTM initially?

Why is RTM objecting and have they no intention of honouring the contract signed as they only have rights for free to air TV?

Why is FAM fearful or be willing to be held at ransom by RTM as the deal with RTM ends at the end of this season hence it will be an open market for next season so FAM can benefit by selling it to the highest bidder?

Why are the top officials of FAM keeping quiet on the constant foul ups, bleeps and blunders done by the administration?

Why, why and why can be something we ask but the answers will never be forthcoming as honest competitors like Astro will continue to be given a raw deal by those with vested interest or lack of knowledge on how to read contracts.