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South Africans love sport, but with commercial interests jostling for the most rewarding audiences, fans are in danger of being starved of coverage while TV stations squabble.
The public broadcaster is meant to show rugby internationals played on home soil in terms of Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) regulations. But the SABC has come up with a decision not to show delayed matches.
This caught fans for the first ’Bok match against England, as the SABC had not even negotiated radio rights and had advertised coverage. This past weekend, e.tv cleverly stepped in to televise the second international.
SABC acting chief operations officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, said people needed to take the SABC seriously: “I mean, why should people watch a delayed match? So, we took a decision.”
Exactly how viewers would be happier not being able to see a game at all, even a delayed one, is not clear. Many fans are not subscribers to DStv.
The SABC has claimed that 98 percent of all events that fall within the Icasa regulations have been covered. But not rugby, it seems.
Soccer is taken care of with the corporation negotiating a three-year deal worth R28 million to show Bafana matches played on the continent.
Is the SABC busy with gamesmanship? It is aware that rugby has to change its profile from being a traditionally white sport. Is this its way of driving prices down? Or perhaps rugby is still seen as part of a colonial legacy, and not worth spending money on.
Last week an SABC spokeswoman on Radio Sonder Grense blamed the rugby union for high prices demanded for live rights, and said it was unfair to expect the public broadcaster to pay.
SuperSport’s response in giving the game to e.tv was an interesting move in this frustrating version of broadcasting chess. With the last rugby international this weekend it will be interesting to see what the next shift will be.