The only coverage SABC are willing to provide of the two Tests against the Black Caps will be two highlights packages per day and, as a result, CSA will only receive R11 million – R3 million from the SABC and R8 million from advertising time that has already been bought by the sponsors – for the television rights, when their actual value is R30 million.
“We are disappointed that the Tests will receive limited coverage and, although we are committed to the free-to-air broadcaster as part of our development mandate, we took a substantial cut in our broadcast rights fee to ensure we can take cricket to the South African public,” acting CSA chief executive Jacques Faul said in a statement released on Wednesday.
But behind the scenes, the cricket governing body is seething over the SABC’s unwillingness to fulfil their Icasa-stipulated mandate of providing live coverage of sporting events that are in the national interest. South Africa have been the number one ranked team in Test cricket since August, but the matches against New Zealand are their first on home soil since winning the pre-eminent ranking.
CSA sources told Business Day that Faul is so upset over the deal that he had to be talked out of considering whether to step down as CEO.
“The decision to broadcast these matches is a clear indication that we take our mandate seriously and we are cognisant that the public of South Africa deserve to see their cricket team – which is rated number one in the world in Test cricket and also highly in the other formats of the game.
“The SABC will continue to serve the public of South Africa and be true to their mandate of educating, informing and entertaining them,” SABC spokesman Sizwe Nzimande said.
CSA are now determined to handle their television rights differently next summer, with SuperSport likely to be offered exclusive rights and paying considerably more for them.
As one high-ranking CSA official said: “We’ve been falling over backwards to try and get cricket on free-to-air television because we know how vital that is to developing the game, especially amongst the disadvantaged communities. But now we’ve sold the rights to SABC at nearly one-third of their value. Where do they think most of our money to run our development programmes comes from? It’s from selling the television rights and now we’ve taken a big knock in that department.”
Negotiations with the SABC had been ongoing for the last two months through world leading television rights company IMG, while CSA had also tried to get Sascoc and the sports ministry to intervene on their behalf as Faul acknowledges the importance of cricket being on the majority of TVs in the country.
“To grow our game, we need cricket on free-to-air. We see it as an obligation to all South Africans that they can see their number one team in action,” he said earlier this week.