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Ken Borland

SABC set to deny millions

Posted on January 21, 2013 by Ken

The SABC looks set to deny millions of South Africans live coverage of international cricket this summer despite Cricket South Africa (CSA) offering them broadcast rights at massively discounted rates.

By late yesterday, the SABC had still not accepted CSA’s latest proposal which involved them broadcasting South Africa’s home internationals this summer for a minimal fee, but with the state broadcaster paying over the money companies have already committed to be broadcast sponsors.

“It would be an absolute disaster if the South African cricket-loving public don’t get to see the number one Test team in the world in action. To grow the game, we need it on free-to-air television. We see it as an obligation to take cricket to all South Africans. It will be very, very sad if cricket is not on SABC,” CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul told Business Day on Monday.

CSA have been in negotiation with the SABC for two months, through IMG, the global leaders in televised sports productions, but so far the broadcaster has just offered to screen highlights.

While CSA are desperate to ensure free-to-air broadcasts, there is no commercial benefit for them to do so. In fact, it costs them significant amounts of money as SuperSport would pay considerably more than they currently do if they had exclusive rights.

In previous years, the SABC have signed a broadcast agreement as late as on the morning of the first international match, but CSA insiders now believe even this won’t happen. This would be in contravention of the SABC’s mandate as stipulated by Icasa, the South African communications regulator, which compels the national broadcaster to show sporting events that are in the national interest.

The amount of money CSA’s regular sponsors have already paid for advertising time on the SABC would cover about half the rights fee the cricket governing body is seeking from the broadcaster. CSA would then supplement this amount by selling further advertising themselves. But even this proposal has so far failed to win over the SABC.

The home international season begins on Friday in Durban with the first of three T20 internationals against New Zealand.

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