The SABC was unable to broadcast Bafana Bafana’s 6-0 win over the Seychelles on Saturday evening because South African Football Association (Safa) officials allegedly turned away the crew sent to cover the match at the FNB Stadium.
SABC chief operating officer Chris Maroleng, alongside group executive for sports Renee Williams, announced at a press conference yesterday that the broadcast rights between Safa and SABC expired in April, but that a “survival clause” allowed the public broadcaster to air the remaining home Bafana matches, against Seychelles and Nigeria.
The survival clause also required the SABC to pay the R110 million cost for broadcast rights.
Williams claimed SABC paid the full amount in September.
She said: “[The survival clause] obliges all parties to make sure they deliver [on] all of their obligations, even though there is a termination date. We paid them … within that contract we still had two matches that remained, that has been our dispute with Safa.
“We are still of the opinion that they owe us the two matches. And we stand by that.”
The SABC is mandated to air all sports that are of public interest – which includes Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Bafana Bafana matches – to those without access to alternate, subscription-based broadcasts.
Maroleng said: “We felt a deep sense of regret that we were unable to show our national team after this famous victory. We understand the crucial importance, not for Safa, but for the people of South Africa, that we must bring to them their national team.”
Due to the mandate, the SABC is required to enter negotiations with Safa without bargaining.
Of the R1.2 billion SABC paid for all its broadcast rights in the past two fiscal years, R700 million went to PSL and Bafana matches and R131 million for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. That is compared with under R100 million for Cricket South Africa and R32.7 million for rugby.
The SABC estimated that between rights and production costs between 2012 and 2018, it paid R2.3 trillion to the PSL, Safa and the Confederation of African Football.
“We want to sway discussions to our national teams, not the federations,” Williams said. “If there are negotiations between SABC and Safa, Bafana becomes collateral damage, the nation becomes collateral damage. If we cannot reach a middle ground, people cannot see Bafana.
“There is a separation between what we have to do and what we do on a commercial basis. Either we look at a different business model to fund and support national teams, or we go to government and say ‘how can we work together toward this?’”
Maroleng said: “We are appealing to our counterparts in Safa to come to the table and help us. I am cautiously optimistic that we will find each other.”
Safa could not be reached for comment yesterday.