PARLIAMENT | The Communications and Multimedia Ministry is open to the suggestion of other companies competing with digital broadcast service provider Astro to provide paid television broadcasting services in the country, the Dewan Negara was told today.
Deputy Minister Eddin Syazlee Shith said the ministry was ready to grant rights or content application service provider (CASP) individual licences to interested companies, as long as they complied with certain conditions.
Eddin Syazlee said among the conditions set were that the companies should be set up in Malaysia, with a paid-up capital of RM500,000.
"However, it should be taken into account that Astro was given 25 years of (exclusive) rights based on its investments made to advance technology in order to get good content, such as HD programmes which are among the best in the Asia Pacific.
"For companies such as Astro, it takes 23 years just to get a return on investment. This is a factor which needs to be taken into consideration by new companies. This is not easy," he said.
Eddin Syazlee was replying to a supplementary question from Senator Yong Wui Chung, who wished to know if there was any assistance or incentive that the ministry could provide to local and foreign broadcasting firms to compete with Astro.
He said that Astro, which is managed by Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd (MBNS), had been granted exclusive rights and privileges to broadcast live content through satellite services to the public since 1997.
"The duration of the exclusive rights and privileges expired on Feb 28 last year.
"However, MBNS can still continue satellite broadcasting activities on a non-exclusive basis, because the licence it owns under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is valid until Feb 1, 2020," he said.
The deputy minister added that as of June 30, 35 companies had been granted individual CASP licenses by the Communications and Multimedia Commission to offer television broadcasting services through various platforms such as satellite, free-to-air broadcasts, internet protocol television (IPTV) and terrestrial digital TV.
He said four of the 35 companies were allowed to offer television broadcasting services via satellite, namely, Ansa Broadcast Sdn Bhd, Jaringan Mega Sdn Bhd, Smart Digital International Sdn Bhd and High End Net Sdn Bhd.
"With the diversity in terms of platforms, the people are expected to have many options to enjoy content, either through free broadcasts or paid ones.
"Apart from this, people also have the option to enjoy content through over-the-top platforms, such as Tonton, iflix or Netflix," he said.