Sports can unite Malaysians: Government defends decision to spend on World Cup broadcasts

Sports can unite Malaysians: Government defends decision to spend on World Cup broadcasts

russia world cup
A photograph taken on May 30, 2018 shows the FIFA World Cup 2018 flag in front of the Kremlin in Moscow. The FIFA World Cup 2018 tournament kicks off on June 14, 2018. (Photo: Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

PUTRAJAYA: It will cost RM30 million (US$7.5 million) for national broadcaster Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) to telecast the 2018 World Cup football matches, and half the amount has already been covered by sponsors and advertisement income.

The total cost is less than the RM40 million estimated by the government earlier, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo on Thursday (May 31).

“I received an official letter indicating that the cost for the telecast (both live and delayed) totals RM30 million for 41 matches,” he told a press conference, adding that RTM is working on getting sponsorships for the remaining cost.

It was announced on Wednesday that RTM will air the matches for free – 27 will be shown live while 14 will be delayed broadcast.

The decision was largely welcomed by Malaysians, although some questioned if the government should be paying for the broadcasting rights at a time when it is collecting public donations to help reduce the national debt.

Former minister Rais Yatim, who served under the Barisan Nasional government, tweeted that the new administration should “save the country’s money”.

Defending the decision at a news conference on Thursday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the budget for World Cup broadcasts was approved by the Cabinet because it was a quadrennial tournament and a global event as well.

"Hence, the flexibility was given,” he said, adding in a media release that the live telecast was promised in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.

“Sports is one of the platforms which can unite Malaysians,” said Lim. “We believe that this will make for a more enjoyable Hari Raya Aidilfitri for all football fans.”

Thirty-two teams are competing in the World Cup finals that will be played at several venues in Russia from Jun 14 to Jul 15.

Source: CNA/Bernama/gs