There are 5 satellite Pay TV providers in Malaysia but nothing has changed

Image: James Cridland

When Astro launched in 1996, it was given a 20-year exclusivity to provide pay TV services via Satellite. That exclusivity had expired on 28 February 2017, which we had reported last year. Unfortunately, there are many that still believes that Astro is still a monopoly. 

BN MP for Lenggong, Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, had recently asked about the government’s action to move away from Astro’s monopoly in parliament. As a response, the deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister, Eddin Syazlee, had shared that Astro no longer enjoy exclusive rights to satellite television. In fact, there are other four companies with Content Applications Service Provider (CASP) license to operate their own satellite TV service. 

At the moment, Astro is still the exclusive satellite broadcast provider simply because the other four companies have not started their operations. The companies are Ansa Broadcast (ANSA), Jaringan Mega (Jaringan Mega), Smart Digital International (Smart Digital) and High End Net.

Satellite is just one medium to provide TV services. There are other platforms which include free-to-air, IPTV and digital terrestrial television broadcasting (DTTB). As of 30 September, MCMC have granted 35 companies with CASP licenses which can be used to operate IPTV and terrestrial TV services.

The deputy minister also added that Malaysians currently enjoy a variety of content options from Over-the-top (OTT) players which include Tonton, Netflix and iflix.

The issue right now is not so much for the medium of broadcast but it’s about content rights in Malaysia. Astro currently has greater control over broadcasting rights for sports in Malaysia especially when it comes to international football and sporting events. That’s one of the reasons why Unifi TV was not able to broadcast the 2018 World Cup. 

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We’ve seen many attempts by other providers to compete with Astro through IPTV and DVB, but none of them come close as they lack the popular sporting content. Similar to broadband, running a pay TV service is very costly and companies will have to invest a lot to secure top content that people are willing to pay to watch. After all, content is still king. 

What do you think? Do you still have Astro at home? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Alexander Wong