JOHANNESBURG – English Premier League TV rights secured by the SABC, which appears to be Safa’s bone of contention in their standoff, have been acquired through a third party, public broadcaster COO Chris Maroleng said yesterday.
The SABC and Safa have so far failed to come to a mutual agreement on a new annual agreement for Bafana Bafana matches - the latter rejecting the R10m which was offered last week as it is down from the previous year’s R110m.
Russell Paul, the acting Safa CEO, was quoted over the weekend saying that Safa were appalled that the SABC “found the money for the English Premier League and (were) televising the games at the same time as PSL matches.”
But Maroleng insisted that those rights, believed to have been secured through Kwesé Sports, were a guaranteed return on investment.
“I can’t give you the specific details, but it is significantly less than the rights that are charged for other products.
“What effectively happened was that we acquired these rights from a third party and what has effectively happened is that we are in a position where we have already at 80 percent of recovering the costs we paid for in August for the EPL rights,” the SABC boss explained.
His Safa counterparts are incensed that a public broadcaster, in their view, saw it fit to prioritise chasing the rights to televise a foreign league, leaving Safa cash strapped and “diluting the soccer audience in this country.”
Maroleng responded: “The EPL has a significant following in South Africa and indeed advertisers and our funding model is on the basis of getting commercial advertisers.
“There has been a great demand from advertisers and sponsors who have been lining up to partner with us in terms of bringing more of the EPL.
“I can assure you that we used a different criteria to bring in these rights.”
He added that he was cautiously optimistic that Safa and the SABC would find common ground because they were both acting in the interest of the public, many in rural South Africa, who deserve to watch Bafana on their television screens.
“But we have both had a different calculation of the value of these rights,” Maroleng said.
“We have said to the SABC we are willing to put in an additional sum of money based on the returns of our broadcast deal. But they rejected that off hand. We are losing money, over R2bn from sports broadcasting because some of these rights are unfunded and we as the SABC must somehow find the money for production costs.”
The SABC will be able to show this afternoon’s away Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Seychelles and Bafana through another third party in French media company Lagardere Sports, who own CAF broadcast and production rights for the decade.@superjourno