Johannesburg - Cricket South Africa have taken a substantial financial hit, but at least the wider public will see live international cricket on SABC this season after CSA and the state broadcaster reached agreement over a deal on Wednesday to show the limited overs matches for South Africa’s series with New Zealand.
Those live matches will include the three T20 internationals and One-day Internationals, but not the Test series.
Instead the Tests, the format in which South Africa rose to No1 in the world this year, will be limited to broadcasting the final session of each day’s play - with some highlights from earlier in the day - and an extended highlights package at night.
“We are happy that we’ve managed to come to an agreement with the SABC, but we are disappointed that the Tests will receive limited coverage,” said Cricket SA’s interim chief executive, Jacques Faul.
“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.”
Cricket SA had offered the rights to the SABC for R15-million, half of the amount paid for last season’s rights.
The SABC, through it’s head of sport Sizwe Nzimande, said the organisation had achieved a deal that was in keeping with it’s mandate. “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 No1 in the world in Test cricket and also highly in the other formats of the game.”
The SABC and CSA will engage in further negotiations about the Pakistan series which follows the tour by New Zealand.
The SABC have never failed to broadcast the national side, since South Africa’s return from sporting isolation in 1992. However, in recent seasons, the financial problems which have beset the organisation have seen them lose the rights to a number of top sporting events.
Cricket SA have always sought to have the national team’s home tours broadcast live on free to air television as they see it as part of their mandate to spread the game. Viewership figures in previous seasons indicate that live cricket is popular on SABC3 with a peak figure of 1.8-million being achieved during last year’s Test series with Sri Lanka.