Did You Know That Malaysians Once Sponsored RTM To Air The 1982 World Cup?

It happened during a time when crowdsourcing was unheard of.

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Did You Know That Malaysians Once Sponsored RTM To Air The 1982 World Cup?
Image: Forza 27
When Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo announced on Wednesday that RTM will be airing the 2018 World Cup in Russia for free, many Malaysians were jumping for joy.

The deal is to air 41 out of the 64 matches and out of which 27 matches will be aired live, while the remaining 14 will be delayed telecast.

This happened after the Cabinet agreed to the RM40 million ceiling that was placed to purchase the rights to broadcast the matches.

The official ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
You can imagine the happy reactions that followed shortly after the announcement.

However, did you know that this wasn't the first time that the World Cup was aired on RTM?

In case you didn't notice, the public broadcaster has always aired both live and delayed broadcasts of the competition for the past couple of decades. The only difference each time was the number of matches that were shown depending on the budget that was allocated.

But there is one particular story from the 1982 World Cup in Russia which will forever remain in our mind.

Back in the 1980s, live television wasn't something that was easily available to everyone and the World Wide Web wasn't even around yet.

At the time, RTM was probably the only channel that most Malaysians who owned a television were watching. Ask your parents.

The station had already started broadcasting the World Cup live in 1974, and subsequently in 1978 and 1982.

But football fans could only anticipate watching the opening match, semi-finals and finals. As for the rest of the matches, people could only get delayed results from radio or TV news updates.

How frustrating for the fans!

So on 14 June 1982, a Malay Mail reader Peter Teo called up the newspaper's hotline and suggested a simple idea that became a movement which will be remembered forever.

He thought that since RTM didn't have enough funds to broadcast more live matches of the World Cup, why not open an avenue for the public to sponsor RM1 each to pay for the rights?

Essentially, he pitched a crowdfunding campaign, a concept that was unheard of back then, and it worked!

The newspaper got the approval from the then Information Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Adib Adam that RTM would accept contributions from the public to air more live matches as long as someone is managing the collection.

Days later, the People's Live Telecast Fund (PLTF) was launched on 19 June and the crowdfunding resulted in thousands of Malaysians going all the way to the newspaper's branch offices across the country to hand-in their contributions.

People from all ages and walks of life turned up in the following days, even a 6-year-old boy who had gone with his piggy bank and willingly donated his savings of RM12.80

If you remember how much money you had when you were his age, you'll know that that's practically our entire life savings!

Even the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, then (and current) Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and then Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam donated to the fund!

After several weeks of collection, the PLTF amounted to a total of RM300,000, which was enough to pay RTM for four more live telecasts of the World Cup!

The Italy-Brazil match which Malaysians were able to watch live back then.
And the proudest moment for Malaysians came when the words 'Ditaja oleh Rakyat Malaysia' came on the screen whenever the matches were broadcast live.

A cartoon by Datuk Lat that truly described the moment.
What an amazing achievement, Malaysians!

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