Govt urged private TV stations to revise rates to stay in the game

Production houses and programme suppliers are of the opinion that all stations should change their procurement system


PRIVATE television stations need to review their programme procurement rates to stay in the game following the government’s move to increase the price tags for programmes that are supplied by independent producers to channels that are run by Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

Production houses and programme suppliers are also of the opinion that all stations should change their procurement system to suit the current changes and market movements.

Talent development director at Broadway Entertainment Malaysia Amiruddin Mohd Karim said apart from increasing the procurement rates, the stations should allow production houses ownership of the copyrights to their shows.

“In most cases, the copyright belongs to the station and, therefore, the production house ends up being a subcontractor to the TV station.

“That causes the production house to only work according to the budget provided to them because, at the end of the day, the final product is not theirs,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.


Copyrights to the Shows

Amiruddin said by having the copyright to the content, it would push producers to be more innovative in creating contents to be put out for viewers as they could explore their creativity and showcase it to the masses.

Producer and owner of Pencil Pictures & Records Sdn Bhd Datuk Normashayu Puteh seconded Amiruddin’s view and said that producers need to retain their copyrights to the shows they produced which could also be exposed to a bigger market.

“If the TV station only holds it for two or three years, producers can then bring the show elsewhere after the contract is done. But if the station wants to own the copyright to the shows then the pay for producers should be high,” she said.

As for RTM’s new rates, Normashayu said review is timely as it has never been revised since it was set in 1986.

Revised Procurement Rates

Last week, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo announced that the revised procurement rates had been approved and will be effective from April 2020.

Rates for telefilms are expected to increase between 20% and 60%, while drama series will see a hike between 30% and 60%.

For documentaries, the rate will be increased between 10% and 30%, while animated series can expect an increase of 30%.

The current RTM rate for a 30-minute drama is RM23,000, drama with an-hour long episode is RM43,000, while the rate for telemovie stands at RM110,000.

The payments are, however, given after filming is done which means producers would have to use their own funds first to produce a show.

Unlike RTM, Normashayu said TV3 may offer a lower rate — at RM95,000 per telemovie — but the payment is made in advance which is a tremendous help for producers.

She said the current rates are insufficient and producers struggle to create quality shows based on the budget provided, and the new revised rates should also be fixed instead of having tiers depending on the quality of a show.

“They should appreciate our work and us as a production team. I made a promise to myself that when the rate is good, I would give quality content,” she said.

Amiruddin added that there should also be a clearer outline on which shows deserve the higher rate (60% increase).

He also questioned if the amount would be given prior to the filming process or after it is produced.

Meanwhile, RTM and other government channels are expected to see a boost in the quality of the content following the government’s decision to revise the procurement rates upwards.

Variety of Options

As it is, Persatuan Karyawan Malaysia President Datuk Freddie Fernandez said the stations are already competing with various entertainment platforms that could be easily accessed by the consumers.

He said the government’s decision to increase the rate would encourage producers to offer a variety of options for viewers to enjoy, and the upgrade and improvement are vital if RTM wants to attract more viewers and achieve high ratings for shows that are produced for the channels.

“We need new and compelling content that will attract viewership and make loyal followers out of them.

“Writers and directors have to be extra creative and come up with new exciting and unique ideas with interesting concepts and storylines to attract viewers,” he told TMR.

Fernandez said enhanced quality shows on RTM will bring along a new level of healthy competition among various private stations and other digital content offerings which will benefit the viewers in terms of the options they are able to choose from.

He added that the station also has to stay clear of producers who may not be able to deliver high viewership and instead demand for top quality content from production houses that are offered production contracts as the new rates are rolled out.

“All players will have to work harder and come up with compelling content in order to survive in a very tough market environment where choices for advertisers are growing by the day,” he added.