SABC stumped over T20 rights
Millions of local cricket fans were denied the chance to watch the Proteas play their opening World T20 match last night because the game was not broadcast on SABC channels.
A lack of agreement between the rights holders, Supersport, and the SABC kept the cricket off free-to-air screens.
That's despite the tournament featuring on a list of "national sporting events of public interest" the state broadcaster has been mandated to televise, as per the Government Gazette of April 7 2010.
An indication of how many more South Africans follow cricket on SABC channels compared with the pay channel can be gauged from the viewership figures of last season's Australian tour to South Africa.
On SABC3, a total of 23773441 watched matches on all three formats of the game. Just 7211068 tuned in to Supersport for the same coverage.
In T20 terms, 8490433 cheered the Proteas from SABC sidelines with only 2606287 watching the matches on Supersport
However, Supersport's superior financial muscle means they usually beat the SABC to the punch when rights are up for grabs.
"We've made an offer to them with regard to this event, and they haven't responded with a counter proposal or anything of that nature," Brandon Foot, Supersport's head of acquisitions and legal, said.
Foot denied that Supersport wanted $9-million to broadcast the Proteas' World T20 games, saying: "Wow, I wish it was. Categorically, that's not the case."
Jacques Faul, Cricket South Africa's acting chief executive, said the more fans who watched the games the better.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago did not respond to a request for comment before going to press.