Television in Malaysia

Malaysian television broadcasting was introduced on 28 December 1963. Colour television was introduced on 28 December 1978. Full-time colour transmissions were officially inaugurated on New Year's Day 1982. There are currently 8 national free-to-air terrestrial television stations in Malaysia and 2 national pay subscription television stations in Malaysia.


Before the digital transition, out of eight free-to-air analogue television channels; four in East Malaysia and the other four in West Malaysia. Transmissions in Malaysia were black-and-white until 28 December 1978. First stereo audio broadcasting was introduced in 1985 by TV3. Five out of eight channels do not have 24-hour schedule. 24-hour television was introduced in Malaysia between 13 and 16 May 1989 on TV1. The first 24-hour broadcasting in Malaysia was introduced in 1997 by TV3, but was discontinued later due to energy-saving plan (see below). Since April 2006, TV2 broadcast round-the-clock followed by TV1, which began broadcasting 24 hours in August 2012 after having short-lived round-the-clock broadcast previously.

Television providers[edit]

Subscription providers are available, with differences in the number of channels, capabilities such as the programme guide (EPG), video on demand (VOD), high-definition (HD), interactive television via the red button, and coverage across Malaysia. Set-top boxes are generally used to receive these services. Households viewing TV from the internet also tracked by the Malaysian government.

Provider Free or pay No. broadcast channels VOD HD Red button Transmission
Digital terrestrial Free-to-air 15[1] Yes Yes Yes Digital terrestrial television
Astro Free and Pay TV 206 (TV and Radio) Yes Yes Yes Digital satellite and IPTV
NJOI Free Satellite TV 83 (TV and Radio) No Yes Yes Digital satellite
unifi tv Free and Pay TV 85 (TV and Radio) Yes Yes Yes IPTV

Analogue terrestrial television[edit]

This is currently the traditional way of receiving television in Malaysia, however it has now largely been supplanted by digital providers. There are eight channels; three of them are government public-owned by Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM). The three television channels are terrestrial free-to-air TV1, TV2 and TV Okey (formerly TVi and TV5). TV Alhijrah is owned by Al Hijrah Media Corporation while TV3, NTV7, 8TV and TV9 are private and commercially owned by Media Prima. Worldview Broadcasting Channel was commercial-owned by Worldview Broadcasting Channel (Malaysia) Sendirian Berhad. It has since closed down in October 2012 after they were unable to operate the channel due to financial difficulties.[2] Analogue terrestrial transmissions were scheduled to be switched off in phases as part of the digital switchover, expected to be completed in 2020 as a recommendation from Southeast Asia. On 31 December 2018, digital television consortium MYTV Broadcasting scheduled the switchoff on third quarter 2019, to allow a period of digital set-top box distribution to eligible viewers with low income.[3] The frequency has been moved to avoid signal jamming with television in Thailand and preventing Singaporeans from watching foreign-copyrighted programming, especially that contains Chinese dialects (mainly in Cantonese and Hokkien) on free-to-air, due to tight censorship currently in place in Singapore. The analogue were indefinitely switched off nationwide on 31 October 2019.[4][5][6][7]

Digital terrestrial television[edit]

In 2005, the Ministry of Information announced their plan to digitalise nationwide free-to-air TV broadcasts led by Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).[8] Trial broadcasts were undertaken, involving one thousand households in the Klang Valley from September 2006 till February 2007. According to the then-Deputy Minister of Information, Chia Kwang Chye, the trial received "very positive" feedback, i.e. "more than 60 percent said the quality of the signal ranged from good to very good. Over 88 percent said the picture quality improved, while 70 percent said the sound quality was better".[9]

On 1 January 2008, TV3 announced that they were carrying out their own tests using a completely different system, T-DMB. However their test transmission is available only to areas surrounding their main headquarters at Sri Pentas, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya. The test signals consists of a single DAB stream, Fly FM, and two T-DMB streams, TV3 and a Hot Visual, which carries a slide show with audio signal streamed from the radio station Hot FM.

Despite a success of RTM's pilot trials, the digital terrestrial television transition faced many problems. These problems stemmed from the lesser enthautism of content providers toward the digitisation, with the exception Les Copaque, and the need to improve the nation's Internet broadband infrastructure. With the resignation of then Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the succession of Najib Tun Razak, the project by RTM was deferred indefinitely.

Satellite television[edit]

Malaysia's sole satellite television operator, MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems (a subsidiary of Astro All Asia Networks) launched the Astro service in launch of the MEASAT-1 satellite as part of Malaysia's commercialisation of space, Astro commenced broadcasting on 1 June 1996 with an initial offering of 3 radio stations and 22 television channels. Today, Astro has over 160 TV channels and Radio Stations, as well as 25 HD channels. They have also started their IPTV service in 2013.


Channel Name Language Owner Group Type
1 TV1 Malay RTM Free-to-air Terrestrial
2 TV2
4 Astro Ria Astro Astro channels Satellite
5 Astro SuperSport English
6 Astro Asian Entertainment Channel Chinese
7 Astro Wah Lai Toi Cantonese
8 Astro Vaanavil Tamil
9 CNN International News English CNN News
10 Discovery Channel English (Malay subtitle) Discovery Communications Education
11 NBC Asia National Geographic Society
12 ESPN International Sports English ESPN Sports
13 STAR Sports STAR TV
14 HBO International Movies English (Malay subtitle) HBO Movies
15 STAR Movies STAR TV
16 MGM Gold Metro Goldwyn Mayer
17 Cartoon Network Cartoon Network Animated
18 Disney Channel Asia English (Malay subtitles) The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) Animated
19 STAR World English STAR TV Entertainment
20 Channel [V] International
21 MTV MTV Networks
22 Phoenix Chinese Channel Chinese Phoenix Satellite Television Jade
23 STAR Movies Cantonese (Malay subtitle) STAR TV
24 CCTV 4 Chinese China Central Television

It currently holds exclusive rights from the Malaysian government to offer satellite television broadcasting services in the country through the year 2017. The rights was extended to 2022 recently.[citation needed] However, today Astro contains more than 100 channels including local and international channels and radio channels.

There are also laws preventing too many advertisements from being aired on both radio and television, similar to the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

In December 2011, Former prime minister Najib Tun Razak announced that free satellite television from Astro, NJOI available to customer starting February 2012.[10]

Cable TV[edit]

Mega TV was launched in 1995 by TV3 as the only cable television service. However, it faced stiff competition from the satellite television network Astro, and failed to expand its content. Because of this, it closed down in 2001, and was replaced by its competitor since then.[citation needed] In 2013, ABN Networks launched their Cable TV service together with Fiber Optic Internet as ABNXcess yet the network also failed to compete with Astro.

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV)[edit]

In contrast to Internet TV, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) refers to services operated and controlled by a single company, who may also control the 'Final Mile' to the consumers' premises.

DETV, a new paid television provider owned by REDtone, provides television and video-on-demand services on the IPTV platform, targeting the Chinese audiences in Malaysia.

However, Astro is the first broadcast company in Malaysia that introduce the IPTV services, branded as Astro B.yond IPTV in collaboration with Maxis Communications and TIME dotCom.

After that, Telekom Malaysia (TM) launched its IPTV services, currently branded as HyppTV in the second quarter of 2009, and now conducts trials with 1,000 selected households in Klang Valley, Penang and Kulim, Kedah.[11]

TM then successfully released their IPTV based on their HSBB Unifi service which only available to Unifi subscriber through nationwide. Collaboration with Astro stopped on 1 August 2016 with termination of both Astro Supersports HD and Astro Supersports 2 HD.[12] HyppTV is rebranded as Unifi TV starting from 12 January 2018.[13]

Mobile TV[edit]

Maxis, DiGi and U Mobile provide mobile television services for reception on third generation mobile phones. They consist of a mixture of regular channels as well as made for mobile channels with looped content. Maxis TV now offers more than 20 channels to Maxis 3G subscribers who own compatible mobile phones.[14] Yet, Maxis is expected to roll out broadcast mobile TV services based on DVB-H in the near future.[15]

U Mobile also provides broadcast mobile TV to users of selected 3G phones, also based on DVB-H.[16]

In October 2008, Astro launched Astro Mobile TV which currently provides 18 channels, all of which are mobile versions of its existing channels, seven of them are under its own brand. This service is only available to Maxis subscribers with compatible 2.5G or 3G handsets, and does not reprise its role from Maxis TV.

Live streaming[edit]

Television received via the Internet may be free, subscription or pay-per-view, multicast, unicast, or peer-to-peer, streamed or downloaded, and use a variety of distribution technologies. Playback is normally via a computer and broadband Internet connection, although digital media receivers or media centre computers can be used for playback on televisions, such as a computer equipped with Windows Media Center.

Most-viewed channels[edit]

Viewing shares, January–September 2012.[17]

Position Channel Group Share of total viewing (%)
1 TV3 Media Prima 26%
2 TV9 Media Prima 8%
3 TV2 Radio Televisyen Malaysia 7%
4 8TV Media Prima 6%
5 TV1 Radio Televisyen Malaysia 5%
6 NTV7 Media Prima 5%
7 Astro Ria Astro Holdings Sdn Bhd 4%
8 Sun TV Sun TV Network 4%
9 Astro Prima Astro Holdings Sdn Bhd 3%
10 Astro Ceria Astro Holdings Sdn Bhd 2%

Stations from neighbouring countries[edit]

Channel Station Language Transmission Format Country Receiving States
Suria Mediacorp Malay Digital HDTV Singapore Johor
Channel 5 English
Channel U Mandarin
Channel 8
Vasantham Tamil
SCTV Surya Citra Media Indonesian Analog SDTV Indonesia Johor
RCTI Media Nusantara Citra
RTB Perdana RTB Malay Digital HDTV Brunei Sarawak
RTB Aneka
RTB Sukmaindera
TV5 Royal Thai Army Thai Digital HDTV Thailand Kedah
NBT The Government Public Relations Department
Thai PBS Thai Public Broadcasting Service
Thai Parliament Television The Secretariat of The House of Representatives SDTV
NBT South The Government Public Relations Department HDTV
TNN 24 TrueVisions SDTV
new) TV Daily News
Nation TV Nation Multimedia Group
Workpoint TV Workpoint
True4U TrueVisions
GMM 25 GMM Grammy
Channel 8 RS
Thairath TV Thairath
Channel 3 Original (HD) BEC Multimedia Analog/Digital SDTV/HDTV
Amarin TV Amarin Digital HDTV
Channel 7 Bangkok Broadcasting Television
PPTV Bangkok Media

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Malaysians can enjoy 15 free channels on myFreeview digital TV service". 24 May 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  2. ^ Mohsin Abdullah (19 October 2012). "WBC employees seek HR ministry's help". Archived from the original on 7 July 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  3. ^ Chester Tay (31 December 2018). "Malaysia to switch off analogue TV signals by end-March 2019". The Edge Markets. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Negara ucap selamat tinggal kepada TV analog" [The country says goodbye to analogue TV]. Bernama (in Malay). Astro Awani. 1 November 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Malaysia Beralih Kepada Siaran TV Digital Secara Sepenuhnya Pada 31 Oktober 2019" [Malaysia Turns Into Digital TV Broadcast On 31 October 2019] (PDF) (Press release) (in Malay). Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. 2 April 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Sabah and Sarawak switch to digital TV". The Star. 31 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Now entire nation enjoys digital TV broadcast". Bernama. The Borneo Post. 1 November 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Malaysia to launch digital TV trial program". People's Daily Online (China). 6 October 2005. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  9. ^ "Malaysia adopts DVB-T standard for digital broadcast transmissions". ABU. 28 March 2007. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  10. ^ Lee Yen Mun (21 November 2011). "Free satellite TV". The Star. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  11. ^ T. E. Goh (19 June 2008). "TM sees IPTV commercial roll-out in 12 months". Business Times. Archived from the original on 20 June 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  12. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). Telekom Malaysia. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  13. ^ Qishin Tariq (15 January 2018). "HyppTV rebrands as unifi TV". The Star. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Maxis 3G in Action – Maxis TV". Maxis Communications. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  15. ^ "Maxis completes DVB-H trial". Mobile World. 28 August 2007. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  16. ^ J. Timbuong (20 September 2007). "U Mobile is newest cellular service provider". The Star. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  17. ^ "Financial & Business Review For The 9-month Period Ended 30 September 2012" (PDF). Media Prima Berhad. p. 15. Retrieved 23 November 2013.