The launch of Astro Arena local sports channel (Channel 801) yesterday morning at the Wisma OCM and going on air on March 26, will in all probability see the demise of another sports channel - ESPN Sports Centre and virtually undermine television stations like RTM, TV3 and Bernama TV.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports and to a certain extend Ministry of Tourism's three-year investment with ESPN Sports Centre, ends this year and the launch of Astro Arena only means trouble for ESPN Sports Centre.
ESPN Sports Centre was suppose to stand on their own feet from this year, and there was even talks that ESPN Singapore was supposed to move to Malaysia because of the high cost in the Republic.
However, it looks unlikely to happen and with the exodus of ESPN Sports Centre's two sportscasters, all indications are that ESPN Sports Centre will find it difficult to stay afloat.
Already, their local 30 minutes daily English sports broadcast has been replaced in Bahasa Malaysia. What was seen as a last minute attempt to stay afloat in the wake of Astro Arena's birth, all indications are that they will find it difficult to do so without any funding.
In the meantime, the main TV stations has also lost several of their key personnel to Astro Arena and this is also going to be a strain on them.
Without doubt Astro Arena, with the cream of sports broadcast personnel on board with them, including several from the newspapers, they are all set to live up to their promise to deliver a comprehensive coverage of local and international sports news, informative magazine and information programme and interactive viewer involvement on-ground.
Astro Arena has also promised to deliver 700 hours of live, local sports content a year, with an additional 2000 hours of replays, coverage of up to 56 hours a week on Malaysians competing at international level.
Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president, YAM Tunku Tan Sri Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Jaa'far, naturally was the most delighted man, for it was his vision to see a 24-hour local sports channel for the last ten years.
Besides, OCM will receive RM350,000 annually for their tie-up with Astro Arena.
The Strategic Alliance between ASTRO and OCM where both parties will collaborate and promote Malaysian sporting events regionally and internationally through Astro Arena, is much anticipated and it is hoped that they will live up to the promise and not deviate from their original plans.
THE DEAL...Measat Broadcast Network System CEO, Datuk Rozana Rozhan (right),representing Astro and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president, Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar, signing the MoU, witnessed by Sports Minister, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Astro All Asia Networks executive deputy chairman and CEO, Ralph Marshall and OCM deputy president, Datuk Dr. M. Jegathesan.
Local sports, including the not so popular sports, can expect to benefit from Astro Arena, as they have promised to cover all sports - big or small.
Minister of Sports and Youth, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who officially launched Astro Arena yesterday was equally excited that he delivered a 23 minute speech!
Chief Executive Officer of Measat Broadcast Networks System, Datuk Rohana Rozhan, who represented ASTRO said: "In our continuous efforts to be the No 1 choice for Malaysian households, ASTRO is committed to invest towards expanding and strengthening our products and offering through the introduction of innovative features such High Definition (HD) services, digital video recoding and IPTV connectivity"
With all the promises, local sports fans will definitely be anxiously looking forward to the March 26, when they can view local sports 24 hours and 7 days a week!
Congrats ASTRO, and to all those affected by the launch of Astro Arena in one way or other, brave the storm and rise tall again, for you have served sports fans all these years and cannot play second fiddle or surrender now!
One for the album for Olympic Sports Hotel......(second from left) Former national hockey skipper, Ow Soon Kooi (Chairman of Olympic Sports Hotel) poses with household names in sports, Datuk R. Yogeswaran, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Datuk Misbun Sidek, Mirnawan Nawawi, Zaquan Adha, R. Puvaneswaran, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and Daniel Bego.