Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring


Bout between SABC and Safa hard to watch

Broadcasting a sports event isn’t sticking your smart phone out the car window and pressing record.


The mudslinging match between the SABC and the South African Football Association (Safa) reminds me of a heavyweight boxing fight between an overweight has-been and a broke palooka coming out of retirement for the umpteenth time, sporting man boobs and uncomfortable love handles.

In short, it’s kinda hard to watch.

It shouldn’t be happening and is just plain embarrassing.

In the one corner you’ve got the poor old SABC playing the victim – especially after Bafana Bafana’s 6-0 win against Seychelles – telling the masses they disappointed by not televising the match that Safa didn’t play by the rules.

Rules they admit to be unwritten but they still expected Safa to grant them additional matches after their contract ran out.

To top it off, they claim to have shown up at FNB Stadium with their camera crews ready to bring the nation joy, only to be denied entry by the evil Safa people.

Surely they can’t expect the masses to be this stupid?

Broadcasting a sports event isn’t sticking your smart phone out the car window and pressing record.

It requires a mass-operation consisting of an outside broadcast team of dozens of people, from production chiefs to runners laying cables for field-side cameramen, to make-up specialists powdering the noses of the Robert Marawas of this world before they go on air.

There are two things wrong with SABC’s pity plea.

The one is, if you don’t have a ticket you’re not allowed at an event. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan, a match official or a VIP. Clearly they did not have access, so why should they have been granted access?

The other is that they were told off days before the event and it was announced that SuperSport would televise the match.

In other words the highly efficient SuperSport outside broadcasters were given the job and duly obliged, moving in with their usual effectiveness, setting up cameras, rifle microphones and commentators.

Where would uninvited guests and their equipment have fitted into this picture?

We are not talking a street market in downtown Mumbai, we are talking about a working environment which needs to run with the precision of a well-oiled military drill to ensure the best possible production.

In the other corner we have Safa, who claim annual broadcasting rights are worth R110 million and that the SABC offered them R10 million. According to them that is why no deal could be reached.

They also tried to justify the price by claiming Bafana matches attract four million viewers.

I agree that annual rights are probably worth more than R10 million, but your bargaining can only be as good as your product – which Bafana definitely aren’t.

If their matches are free to air, people will probably watch by default. But they keep hovering in the 70s on the world rankings and can’t score goals against Seychelles and Libya. Any broadcaster would struggle, selling such a vrot product.

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