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SABC in standoff with Safa over broadcast rights – posted by

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Skyline of The SABC (South African Broadcast Corporation) in Auckland Park, Johannesburg
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The SABC are playing hard ball with the SA Football Association (Safa) over what soccer broadcast rights the national association really own.

The national broadcaster does not want to get into a situation where they might have to pay twice for rights that they do not believe are in Safa’s possession.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) have given French sports agency SportFive the rights to all the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, including the tournament itself in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

This means the only available matches Safa can provide the SABC with are Bafana Bafana friendlies and the rest of the national teams including the under-23s and Banyana Banyana.

“We had a meeting with Safa on Monday and agreed that we must fast track the negotiations for the bigger broadcast rights. Our concern is that we want to clarify which rights Safa own and the ones they do not so we can finalise everything speedily,” said SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago.

Negotiations over new broadcast rights should be at an advanced stage after the last contract expired at the end of March but the parties appear to be deadlocked. Safa’s negotiating team will meet with the SABC this week.

There was a problem of inflated pricing ahead of the Afcon qualifier against Egypt in Cairo. SportFive are reported to have demanded about R5-million for the match. Safa told the SABC they were not getting involved and the national broadcaster pulled strings to clinch a last-minute deal with the important 0-0 draw being beamed live to locals.

The SABC’s current gambit appears to be a means of avoiding having to pay millions of rands to Safa and then pay millions again to SportFive. It can also be seen as a move to encourage Safa to be more forceful in their dealings with Caf, who have effectively given the association’s rights away.

The SABC can expect robust negotiations with SportFive for the upcoming Niger match in Niamey on September 3. The match is a Cup of Nations qualifier and a draw will all but see Bafana through to next year’s finals.

SABC allowed the Niger national broadcaster to air the game free of charge during the first leg in South Africa last year in the hope the gesture would be reciprocated. CAF, however, sold the rights to SportFive after that qualifying round.

“Nothing changes. Whatever we gave to SABC in the last contract we continue to give them. We retain the terrestrial rights which we have confirmed to the SABC. Terrestrial rights means that all broadcast signals inside SA belongs to us, Safa,” said Safa chief operations officer Dennis Mumble.

Mumble said people are misunderstanding the situation when they say SportFive have the rights.

“Caf wanted their matches to be packaged, distributed and broadcast internationally through a company (SportFive) that will provide this to the rest of the world in a coordinated way.”

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