MBC taking FAM on ransom to be granted TV broadcasting rights

MBC headquarters in Blantyre

* Further inter-parte court injunction hearing set for tomorrow, November 25

* MBC presented wrong information that favoured it to be granted a court injunction

* That restrained FAM and Mibawa Studios from broadcasting Airtel Top 8 matches on the weekend of November 13

* MBC refuses to work Mibawa Studios as host and content providers insisting on being sole broadcaster

By Duncan Mlanjira

Lawyers for Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and its TV host and content producer, Mibawa Studios are set to argue on Thursday, November 25, that Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) presented wrong information to the High Court that favoured the state broadcaster to be granted an injunction restraining FAM and Mibawa from broadcasting Airtel Top 8 matches on the weekend of November 13.

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A few days later, November 18, after hearing some arguments from the defendant FAM, High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise issued an order that varied that granted FAM and Mibawa temporary relief to broadcast the remaining Airtel Top-8 matches until the court hears more arguments in order to rule on the next course of action.

According to court documents which Maravi Express has seen, it seems MBC is taking FAM to ransom on the TV broadcasting rights that led to the court injunction which the defendant FAM and Mibawa TV as interested party are set to argue that it was abuse of the court.

The agreement between FAM, Mibawa and Zuku TV to beam Airtel Top 8

FAM signed an agreement with Zuku TV to beam the Airtel Top 8 matches with Mibawa Television as its content providers whilst broadcasting rights discussions for all football matches was still underway.

From the documents Maravi Express has seen between FAM, MBC and Mibawa, it seems the state broadcaster is just not pleased that it has to work together with Mibawa TV and presented wrong information that they were supposed to be the sole broadcaster of matches in the country.

According to correspondents seen from FAM to Mibawa and MBC, the football governing body offered and were to grant that Mibawa was to act as host and content provider for MBC — an arrangement which MBC was refusing solely based on rivalry between the two.

MBC presented wrong information to the court that they were already given the rights to be producing soccer matches on behalf of Mpira TV and that Mibawa Studios did not bid for the rights.

MBC director general George Kasakula accused the football association of acting suspiciously when it awarded the bid to Mibawa to become host content providers for Mpira TV while discussions between the two parties were in progress.

But records show that MBC is trying to force FAM to grant it all the rights and lawyers for FAM, Destone & Co — who were joined by DNC Chambers for Mibawa Studios as an interested party — are set to present to court tomorrow that MBC’s reluctance to work with Mibawa rendered that there was no contract between FAM and MBC.

Court injunction affected players in financial gain

Sources privy to the on-going broadcasting impasse, hint that in rushing to obtain the court injunction when MBC had not signed any contract with FAM, it seems the action was just bent to solely frustrate Mibawa that if the state broadcaster cannot beam the matches, then Mibawa too shouldn’t benefit as well.

The lawyers for FAM, Destone & Co and DNC Chambers for Mibawa are set to argue that MBC misrepresented and suppressed material facts and thus ask the court to vacate the injunction as it is “an unjustifiable interference with football management and risks irreparable harm to football administration”.

It is also an injustice as well to all other stakeholders that include the fans who were denied the chance to watch Malawi national football team’s World Cup qualifying match against Cameroon on Saturday November 13 and the Airtel Top 8 match between TN Stars and Silver Strikers at Chitowe.

MBC is pleading with the court to rule that FAM should grant it to be the sole host and content producer and in the alternative an order to FAM to grant the state broadcaster beaming rights at a reasonable fee and terms.

According to impeccable sources, the whole saga is political in nature trying to frustrate and de-campaign Mibawa Television’s continued rise to professional prominence that has the confidence of international stakeholders such as Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA); Confederation of African Football (CAF) and world football governing body FIFA.

“All this is an effort by MBC management to impress on the ruling party that if Mibawa Television is left unchecked and unchallenged, the country’s opposition political parties shall take advantage of its prominence to de-campaign the government ahead of the 2025 elections.

“But this has boomeranged on MBC management because it seems the government is displeased with they way the TV broadcasting rights has effectively shown as if the ruling party is involved in the whole saga,” said our source.

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