Govt open to pay-TV market liberalisation

Malaysia is open to liberalising the pay-TV market, allowing competition to flourish and ending a monopoly in the lucrative sector worth billions of ringgit, previously stifled by licensing rules and demand for large investments.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (picture) said the ministry welcomes competition in the cable-TV segment, which is currently dominated by Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd.

“The proposals (for pay-TV licences) that have come forward, I will certainly look at them. I think that is something that is healthy and needed for us to move ahead,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Malaysian Reserve.

Gobind said the entry of more players will create a more level playing field, as well as a healthier market, and consumers can pick the operator of their choice.

He also said service providers would strive to improve their services due to the competition.

“We want to have an industry in which there are multiple players who can provide different services, who can always improve and up the ante, and to ensure the industry improves to be on par with the rest of the world,” the minister said in the interview.

He said the country has faced the dilemma of monopoly and a single service provider for a long time in many sectors.

“Nowadays, all you need to do is just sit on your sofa, flip the channels on TV and you can see the difference in the quality of the programmes and the presentation.

“When we have just one service provider, we find that the rest of the world is moving ahead so fast.

“If we look at the same products in some other countries, you will realise that Malaysia is far behind. We really need to push ahead.”

Astro has had the lion’s share of the resident ial pay-TV market since it was founded in 1996.

Govt open to pay-TV market liberalisation, says Gobind