Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
26 Sep 2018
1:48 pm

SABC granted rights to new T20 league for peanuts?

Heinz Schenk

The embattled public broadcaster nor Cricket South Africa could answer a simple 'yes' or no' question over whether money has actually been paid.

CEO Thabang Moroe of CSA and COO Chris Maroleng of SABC during the CSA media briefing on T20 League at CSA Head Quarters on September 26, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Speculation is rife over Cricket South Africa (CSA) seemingly granting the broadcasting rights for its controversial new T20 league to the SABC for next to nothing.

In a joint media conference on Wednesday, the two parties couldn’t provide a simple “yes” or “no” to a repeated question on whether any money was paid for the agreement, which was hailed as a “landmark” on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: Cricket SA and SABC stage T20 coup, or do they?

Despite repeated attempts to obtain an answer, SABC chief operating officer Chris Maroleng kept talking circles around the issue before a CSA spokesperson eventually stated that “I think we all know nothing is for free”.

However, that intervention did little to convince doubters.

“What we’ve indicated is that this is a partnership concerned with the development of the sport. It’s one that is done in a commercially sound and viable manner,” said Maroleng.

“We are not in the position to disclose the commercial aspects of the deal. We are in a partnership.”

It’s indeed standard practice for figures not to be divulged, but in this case there is no indication of an actual monetary agreement.

A broadcasting agreement lacking a monetary aspect could also explain how the embattled public broadcaster managed to obtain exclusive rights despite a current financial loss of R635 million as well as the threat of retrenchments.

“We should be very clear of the message that the SABC is not retrenching staff,” said Maroleng.

“What we have done is indicate our intention to enter into consultation in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, which means we must engage with organised labour and develop modalities that will result in some efficiencies being restored.

“I also understand the question of how one acquires rights at the same time one is contemplating cost savings. What we need to stipulate here is that what we have done is enter into a mutually beneficial partnership with CSA, details of which we unfortunately can’t go into.

“It’s a partnership that’s viable and responsible given the current constraints. We have in no way been reckless and we wouldn’t have been able to bring this tournament to South Africans had it not been for the generosity and willingness of CSA to enter into this partnership.”

CSA, in turn, confirmed that the projected budget for the tournament – which is yet to be finalised – is a loss of R40 million and includes “production costs”.

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