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THE MEDIA APRIL 2018

SPORTS The expensive, complicated game of sports broadcasting rights With the Winter Olympics, Soccer World Cup, Afcon, Rugby World Cup, and Cricket World Cup scheduled for the next two years, sports fans are in for a real treat. But how can they watch coverage of their favourite sporting events? For those without pay TV in South Africa, this could be a major problem. MICHAEL BRATT investigates the complicated world of sports broadcasting rights. A furore erupted in October last year when trade union Cosatu threatened to protest outside a Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and New Zealand in Cape Town. They were fighting for rugby test matches to be televised live on SABC as, at that stage, this was only available to those with a DStv premium subscription. Matches were shown on SABC, but only two hours after they had started. Speaking to Ray White of 702 at the time, Cosatu Western Cape provincial secretary and city councillor Tony Ehrenreich expressed his frustration. “It is a national sport, and there is a great deal of public money going into rugby. Yet only an elite few benefit. These are contracts that deny our country their heritage and their right to enjoy their sports. Cosatu does not recognise the validity of these contracts. We will sabotage SuperSport and their future if they are sabotaging the interests of all South Africans.” Ehrenreich, an experienced and vocal activist, said the world could not be led to believe rugby was “fair and equitable in South Africa when only 20% can see the match live. This is the problem with transformation in this country. It’s the elites both black and white ... and we won’t accept the continuation of these exclusionary policies”. While Cosatu canned its march at the last minute, this is an example of the major problem with sports broadcasting rights in South Africa; the majority of SA’s population does not have access to the coverage as it is mostly on pay TV platforms. As Ehrenreich told The Media Online at the time, “The government and SARU agree all South Africans have the right to watch games live and that SuperSport must transfer the license. Unfortunately SuperSport walked out of the meeting. But 45 million South Africans must be able to watch national teams on TV in real time.” Mark Rosin, chief operating officer of eMedia Investments (the company that owns e.tv and eNCA), believes sports of national interest, including Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana, the Springboks, and the Proteas, “should be readily available to all South Africans. The current television market, however, does not allow for this”. But why is this the case? The Media | wagthedog.co.za P 7


THE MEDIA APRIL 2018
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