The free-to-air TV migration from analogue to digital seems to have hit a snag, with services being suspended in several states over disputes of non-payment between MYTV Broadcasting Sdn Bhd and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM).
The suspension also puts in jeopardy the “analogue switch-off” planned for the first quarter of 2019. If not resolved soon, it could potentially result in a delay in the release of the 700MHz spectrum meant for the telecoms industry and the regional switch-off with Singapore and Thailand.
Hundreds of viewers in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Perak are affected, with 20 broadcasting sites having been shut down since Oct 11 and 25.
The remaining 14 sites were slated to be shut down last night, but have been deferred to Nov 6 after last-minute meetings were held yesterday between TM and MYTV requesting for a delay so that the nation can watch the live Budget 2019 speech today.
There are nine broadcasters offering free-to-air services, among them, RTM1, RTM2, TV3, NTV7, 8TV, AlHijrah and TV9.
“MYTV owes TM over RM60mil for services rendered and the former was reminded several times to pay up before the shut-down action was taken,” said an industry executive who requested anonymity.
Amid all this, there is talk of a proposal for TM to take over MYTV so that the digital terrestrial television (DTT) switch-off goes on as planned, but this could not be verified. There was a similar attempt last year, but it did not materialise.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo has also asked MYTV to explain the reason for the suspension of its services.