TV3 (Malaysian TV network)

Last updated

TV3 (Malaysia).svg
Country Malaysia
Broadcast area
HeadquartersSri Pentas, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia [1]
Picture format 16:9 HDTV (1080i)
Owner Media Prima
ParentSistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad
Sister channels
Launched1 June 1984;40 years ago (1984-06-01)
Webcast (Malaysia only)
(Merged into Tonton Xtra's site, formerly
Flag of Malaysia.svg myFreeview Channel 103 (HD)

Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad, operating as TV3 (pronounced as Tivi Tiga), is a Malaysian free-to-air television channel owned by Malaysian media conglomerate, Media Prima. [2] [3] [4] TV3 is the third oldest TV station in Malaysia. It was launched on 1 June 1984 as the country's first and oldest private television channel. [5] As of October 2021, TV3 remains to be the most-watched television station in Malaysia with about 17% of its viewing share among other Malaysian television stations, followed by TV9 with 15% of its viewing share, making two of them become the second most-watched television station in the country, despite the declining viewership of 3 free-to-air television channels. [6] [7]


The network is notable for opening the big doors for the launching of private TV stations in Malaysia and responsible for launching the careers of many well-known personalities in broadcasting fields. [8] Since 2003, it also organised the Jom Heboh carnival to promote its brands and products. [9]



As early as 1976, some members of parliament demanded the creation of a commercial television channel, but concerns were raised by the government over a potential loss of revenue from newspapers and magazines. [10]

A license was granted to Fleet Holdings, which was owned by Dato' Junus Sudin in August 1983. Officials from CBS were in talks with Fleet Holdings executives regarding the development of broadcasting in the country. The plan was to produce 30% national content and air 70% international content, with the option to buy programmes produced by the government. [11] Fleet Holdings, the publisher of the New Straits Times, was chosen due to its "capacity, capability and expertise". [12] The channel, with a projected launch date of 1 January 1985, was budgeted at RM 45 million. [13] One of the plans was to recapture urban audiences, who had escaped television in pursuit of other forms of entertainment, especially home video, a practice that, among the ethnic groups, was more prevalent in Chinese Malaysians. [14]

In November 1983, TV3 announced that its broadcasts would start ahead of schedule, at some point in 1984. [15] Work for the transmitter at Bukit Besi started in February 1984, revealing the TV3 name to the public. [16] In a surprise move, the channel later secured the rights to the 1984 Summer Olympics days later, to be held later in the year in Los Angeles. The decision still depended on whether or not the owners would start the channel on time. [17] A prospective launch date of between June and July was then announced. [18]

Beginning of operations

TV3 (Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad) officially began broadcasting in the Greater Kuala Lumpur (the area surrounding Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia) in conjunction the Hijri date of the first day of the holy month of Ramadan year 1404 AH (1 June 1984) at 5:00pm local time. [19] The deliberate choice of starting the channel during Ramadan was to test the openness of the Malaysian society. [20] The television channel used to broadcast from a building in Jalan Liku, Bangsar, Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur before it moved to Sri Pentas, Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor in 1995. [21] [22]

Initially, the channel ran for seven hours a day - 5:00pm to 12:00am relying largely on television series produced mainly in the UK and the USA. The programming was mostly new to Malaysia, although some shows were already acquired by SBC (now Mediacorp) in neighboring Singapore. The channel initially had its coverage area limited to the Klang Valley, with plans to start increasing its coverage by the end of the year. Among the shows seen on the new service were Yellow Rose , Hill Street Blues (which SBC rejected), Just Our Luck and Scarecrow and Mrs King . There was also a dedicated slot for Chinese viewers (7 to 8pm), prime-time entertainment at the time RTM's channels were airing news and related programming, and movies in the last slot before closedown. [23] Initially the channel, despite its entertainment format, was faced with criticism over the lack of news and documentaries, while clerics believed that the channel's lack of documentaries would have an adverse influence. [24] Facing the moral controversies the channel had suffered, the channel added prayer calls (RTM had already done for its channels) and had plans to air the main news from RTM. [25] In order to broadcast the news, TV3 needed permission from various organisations (ABU, Asiavision, Visnews, etc.). [26]

In late June 1984, the government was studying the effects to TV3 related to the permission of allowing private radio stations to be opened. [27]

In July 1984, it was announced that TV3 was extending its signal "before long", with an estimated cost of $100 for the maintenance of three transmitting stations, with stations in Penang and Johor to relay its programming, but would also provide separate programming adhering to differences between states. [28] The stations outside Kuala Lumpur would refuse to air content that had already been the source of controversy from conservative figures, with documentaries and related programming likely to fill in the slots. In the case of Johor, the station - which owing to the recent creation of a third VHF channel in Singapore was disabled from broadcasting on VHF) - would refuse to carry content that was already being carried by SBC's channels, due to content rights issues between the two countries. [29] An agreement was held on 23 August to start relaying RTM news bulletins from 31 August. [30]

By October 1984, the channel had surpassed the popularity of both RTM networks, despite its limited coverage area at the time. A survey of 25,000 people conducted by Survey Research Malaysia in September gave satisfactory results to the channel. The slot between 8 and 9pm was seen by 66.9% of the sample, whilst on weekends, the figure increased to 76.9% in the 10pm to midnight period alone. Video rental shops have been feeling the pressure of the channel, witnessing a 20% drop in sales. TV3 had also gained a shadow audience outside of the Klang Valley, with viewers in the area taping programming to relatives and friends in areas without its signal. [31]

TV3 announced in December 1984 that its network would expand by the middle of 1985. Dual audio and stereo were to start in the Klang Valley station in January 1985. [32] The service was the first in the region. [33]

The separate signal for the southern end of Peninsular Malaysia - which included Singapore in its spillover area - was to get TV3 in August 1985. The lack of frequencies available on VHF prompted the station - whose line-up was separate from the Klang Valley station - to start on UHF. [34] Within weeks TV3 showed its silence over the installation of the new station in Johor, as well as further incompatibilities with the Singaporean legal system, including tobacco advertising (which SBC outlawed) and movies in Chinese dialects other than Mandarin. [35] As of February 1985, TV3 was still submitting a proposal to the government to install stations in Ipoh, Johor Bahru and Penang. [36] The government approved the expansion plan in March 1985, encompassing all of West Malaysia, with the plans starting in July. [37] Singaporean advertisers at the time were hesitant in switching to TV3, preferring to wait for the arrival of the station to Johor in order to see the results. [38] At the end of March, equipment had arrived from Japanese company Toshiba to set up the Johor station. [39] Negotiations were underway to find a suitable UHF frequency. [40] [41] Technical difficulties led to the delay of the opening of the Johor station. [42] Consequently, the final date was settled for December 1985. [43] The plan involved five new stations: Penang, Ipoh, Malacca, Johor and Kuantan. [44] The initial idea of having different schedules for different states was scrapped in favor of a uniform national schedule. [45] In addition, UMNO Youth demanted the channel to end its western cosmopolitan image in favor of one that is more supportive of the Malaysian identity, as well as adopting the same censorship system as the two RTM channels. [46]

In August 1985, it was decided that the station should start in Johor on 1 November 1985. [47]

By the end of the year, TV3 was broadcasting 60 hours a week. 10% of the programming was in Malay (main news and the current affairs programme Majalah Tiga), 10% in Chinese (especially Hong Kong dramas) and the remaining 80% in English. The hour-long Cantonese drama slot attracted high advertising revenue. [48]

Test signals in Johor started on 2 November 1985. [49] Singapore's Housing Development Board said that it wouldn't modify its rooftop antennas to receive the new service, as it was against the Singaporean government's policy to facilitate the reception of foreign television stations. Furthermore, Singaporean newspapers wouldn't have access to listings for the channel. [50] The government discouraged its viewing, largely due to series in Chinese dialects other than Mandarin. [51]

As of August 1986, TV3 aired 32% local content compared to RTM's 65%. [52]

TV3 began stereo broadcasts in 1987, [53] using the German system. [54] Despite the scarcity of stereo programmes in the market, TV3 has managed to make programmes in mono audio sound like stereo by splitting the mono sounds with a special synthesizer. [53]

In January 1987, Fleet Holdings transferred its 30% stake in STMB to the NSTP in exchange for M$33.75 million. The NSTP's control over the company increased to 40%. [55] Later in the month, it expanded its stake to 70%. [56] An underwriting agreement with several local banks for its public listing was held on 26 January 1988. [57] The station was listed at the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (now Bursa Malaysia) for the first time on 25 April 1988. [58]

In December 1987, TV3 began running its in-house produced 41-second public service announcement spot on AIDS, featuring the voice of Nassier Rahman. The spot aired eleven times between programmes since it started. It ran concurrently with competitor RTM's, which ran for 45 seconds and air once a day on its television channels. [59]

TV3 started broadcasting to Sarawak in 1988. Initially it was scheduled for 26 August but technical problems delayed its launch there by a few days. [60]

TV3 expanded to central Kelantan, Kota Kinabalu and central Pahang in 1989. [61]

TV3 had its near-debut in the food business in November 1988 [62] with the acquisition of some of Cold Storage's shares but did not materialise because the receipt of approval did not reach the authorities at that time. [61]

In May 1989, representatives of MCA Youth met with TV3's management on whether to air Chinese news on TV3, [63] despite its shortage of Mandarin-speaking staff. [64] The Young Malaysian Movement launched a boycott on TV3 in January 1990 to urge Malaysian Chinese to stop watching the channel and ask all TV channels to air news in the languages of Malaysia's three main races. [65] The boycott would also be supported by MCA Youth as well. [66] In June 1990, MCA Youth gave TV3 a 10-day ultimatum to decide whether to broadcast the news in Mandarin. [67] Meanwhile RTM had planned to air its Mandarin news broadcast on TV3; however the decision was left to TV3 on whether to air it. [68]

Later years

By 1990, half of TV3's programmes are in Malay, as required by the government. [69]

TV3's sports programmes in 1990 consist of American football, the 1990 Superbowl and Italian soccer, competing with RTM's 1990 Commonwealth Games. [70]

During the 1990 general election campaign, TV3 was the only TV crew among the thirty local and foreign newsmen in the Semangat 46 party manifesto reveal. [71] The party's leader refused to allow his voice to appear in news reports but have the crew film the ceremony. [71]

TV3 expanded to Seremban, Bukit Fraser and two more sites in Sabah in 1991 and Mersing, Johor and Miri, Sarawak in late 1992. [72]

The New Straits Times Press through its employees Abdul Kadir Jasin and Khalid Ahmad bought TV3 in a management buyout in 1993. [73]

In January 1994, TV3 entered the mini-cinema business with the 60% acquisition of Power Annex Sdn Bhd, a local film distributor and cinema franchise company. [74] The following month, TV3 entered the local film industry by acquiring rights to a local film produced by Penglipur Lara Sdn Bhd and Televisual Sdn Bhd. [74]

On 1 March 1994, TV3 introduced full-time morning broadcasts, along with rival TV1. [75] Among its programmes include Buletin Awal, which started at 6 am, a morning edition of Business News and Malaysia Hari Ini, with its initial lineup of presenters of Mahadzir Lokman, Christine Ling, Aziz Desa and Hasbullah Awang. [76] Complementing the programmes were a review of major newspapers, weather reports and traffic updates with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and traffic police. [76]

TV3 had at least one hour a week of local Chinese drama in 1994. [77]

On 1 July 1995, TV3 along with Indonesian station RCTI launched Citra Nusantara, airing Saturdays at 8 am, "providing topical insights" of Malaysia and Indonesia. [78]

On 1 September 1995, TV3 extended its broadcasting hours to 1 am on weekdays and 2 am on Saturday and Sunday weekends instead of 12 am and 1 am respectively. [79]

In 1996, TV3 set up its four subsidiaries in Ghana in which it owns a 52.5% of equity stake for each of these subsidiaries. [80]

In 1997, TV3 and MetroVision was ordered by the Ministry of Information to relocate their transmitters to the Kuala Lumpur Tower. [81]

TV3 began 24 hour broadcasting on 31 August 1997 after the government realised that cable and satellite television stations that operate 24 hours have no negative effect to the population, something the government previously sceptical about for productivity reasons. [82] [83]

TV3 had plans to start a second channel by the name of TV9 in 1997, unrelated to the present-day TV9. The application had yet to be received by the Information Ministry. [84]

In April 1998, TV3 and MRCB agreed to build studios and audiotorium in Shah Alam, costing RM 7.2 million and planned to be completed on 31 October 1998. TV3 would be the sole user of such facilities. MRCB will receive RM1.7 million from TV3's advertising income. [85]

In November 1998, TV3 decided to reduce its broadcast hours to just 12 hours for Mondays to Thursdays instead of 20 hours starting next month. [86]

In the financial results of MRCB ending 31 August 1998, TV3 recorded a loss of RM 82 million. [87]

On 22 September 2003, both Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Berhad and The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad were spun off from Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB), in which the latter had acquired from Renong Berhad in 1993 to form Media Prima Berhad. [88] [89]

In 2004, TV3 celebrates its 20th anniversary [90] and concurrently reintroduced 24-hour broadcast time, which has introduced a year before, in 2003. [91] [92]

On 6 September 2007, TV3 along with its sister channels, ntv7, 8TV and TV9 made available for online viewing via Media Prima's newly-launched streaming service, Catch-Up TV, which later rebranded as Tonton. [93] [94] [95]

In 2008, TV3 through programs produced by it, dominates the list of 20 programs with higher viewership. [96]

During the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration in 2009, TV3 dominates 30 percent of entire viewership. [97]

In the first quarter of 2013, TV3 commands a 26% of market share in television audience. [98]

On 1 June 2024, TV3 celebrates its 40th anniversary. It also organised an event called Immersio: Inspirasi Generasi By TV3, which took place at the Telekom Museum prior to its anniversary celebration. [99] [100]


Criticism and controversies

Dialect affair in Singapore

In Singapore, the channel ran into controversy because it broadcast programmes in Cantonese, [51] which ran contrary to the Singapore government's policy of promoting Mandarin instead of other dialects in media. [101] Consequently, it prevented people in government-built housing blocks from installing the special antennas required to receive the channel. [102] In addition, it prevented local newspapers and magazines from carrying listings for TV3, even though these were available for the other Malaysian channels. [103] This was seen as a threat to the flow of information between the two countries, and that it undermined Singaporean perceptions of Malaysia's developing society. [104] The Straits Times defended its argument over not publishing listings for the channel, as, contrary to RTM's two channels, whose schedules were published from the start, TV3 was excluded due to the government's policy against facilitating access to foreign television channels. [105]

Reactions from viewers over the initial decision to boycott the channel were mostly negative, with unusual cases of relatives taping TV3 broadcasts for rent, obtaining the channel's listings from Johor on purpose and that, in the words of its director general Mohamad Noor Saleh, Singaporean media was over-reacting the situation. Hotels were already studying the possibility of installing UHF antennas capable of receiving the signal. [106] The Workers' Party suggested the government to revise the policy, while still not understanding the rationale behind the decision, and that the move would discourage competition from SBC's channels. [107] TV3 refused to make any representation to Singaporean authorities under the claim that the channel was strictly aimed at Malaysian audiences. [108]

TV3 was available on Singapore CableVision (now StarHub TV), Singapore's only cable TV operator, until it was removed at 9pm, 22 July 2002 owing to copyright issues. [109] Its final broadcasting hours were 11:30 am to 9 pm. [110]

Screening of film about Golda Meir

An episode of the American documentary series Against the Odds profiling former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir was inadvertently broadcast on 18 April 1985. The station apologised for the showing, and a spokesman for the network was "deeply regretted". The mistake came from an unusual taking of one of the films that were not submitted for approval at the time by the Film Censorship Board. Israel and Malaysia don't maintain diplomatic ties. [111]

Moral controversies

According to the Asia Wall Street Journal, as soon as TV3 started broadcasting, the channel was put under pressure from Muslim fundamentalists over a growing concern that the channel promoted an "open society" that eroded national values. The Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement strongly condemned the American series seen on the network, knowing that they were "detrimental to the Eastern social ethics", but that would "also destroy Islamic values". Its secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaafar demanded that TV3 should stop airing Western shows and introduce religious and educational programmes in their place. [112] At the time, a television critic said that, if the pressure from religious leaders increased, the channel would remove Solid Gold from its schedule. [25]

On 8 December 1984, Anwar Ibrahim, chief of the youth wing of UMNO condemned the channel's approach and its preferrence for English over Malay. [113]

In 2007, a reality television programme broadcast on TV3 called Sensasi was banned amid accusations that host Awal Ashaari "humiliating a person to sensationalise the issue" along with complaints to actress Rosnah Mat Aris that touched on sensitive issues relating to Islam by linking Siti Khadijah, wife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad to the present issue of women courting younger men. [114] Another reality television show, Teleskop, was banned in 1995 after panellist Nasir Jani's swearing towards Prime Minister at the time, Mahathir Mohamad on air. [115]

In 2010, TV3 broadcast a Hari Raya Aidilfitri advertisement featuring an old man on a flying trishaw and blooming lotus-like flowers, which were said to be reminiscent of Christian and Hindu motifs. This sparked an outcry from Malay supremacist organisations and the Muslim far-right who accused it of "humiliating and insulting Islam". [116] The advertisement was withdrawn after just a few days and TV3 was fined MYR50,000 for the broadcast, in addition to issuing an on-air apology. [117]

Airing of Into the Wild

On 24 March 2012, TV3 aired a 2007 American film, Into the Wild which stars Emile Hirsch, in which he displays his genitals openly in one of the film's scene. TV3 apologized for the showing of the film's indescent scene to Malaysian viewers, while stated that it "acquiesce to the mistakes that occur that cause objections from several parties". [118]

Suspicions of plagiarism from RTL Nieuws

In 2015, TV3 was accused of plagiarism, after it was revealed that its new news design was copied from the Dutch RTL Nieuws, which had introduced its new news design in May 2014. [119]

Wow Shop

From 1 April 2016 to 31 December 2016, A teleshopping block called CJ Wow Shop was broadcast across Media Prima channels. Some of the conglomerate's channels (especially NTV7, 8TV and TV9) were more affected by the changes. This block attracted huge criticism on social media as a large part of daytime schedule has been replaced by CJ Wow Shop, which these slots had been previously running mostly reruns, religious programming and children's programming. [120] [121] CJ Wow Shop was renamed as Wow Shop on 1 November 2020. [122] [123]

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