Fans who can’t afford pay-TV to continue to be starved of live Springboks action

25 October 2018 - 10:53 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Sports Ministry director-general Alec Moemi.
Sports Ministry director-general Alec Moemi.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Poor South Africans who can’t afford the exorbitant costs of pay television are going to continue to be starved of live Springboks action on the SABC.

Director General in the Sports Ministry‚ Alec Moemi‚ told TimesLIVE that the status quo will continue as they are not in a position to dictate to the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to buy the Springboks rights.

Springboks will be in action against England‚ France‚ Scotland and Wales in the end of year tour of Europe in November and those matches will not be available on the public broadcaster. The rights are held exclusively by SuperSport.

“The rugby rights must be bought on an open market and we think that the SABC must make its choices carefully and cleverly‚” said Moemi.

“Whether to continue in the current manner is prudent is a question that the board and their new acquisition strategy must speak to.

"We are in no position to dictate to the SABC whether to buy or not but we are asking for prudency in the consideration of their decisions.

"SA Rugby has a good deal with SuperSport and they are unaffected.

"SuperSport will still buy the rights and what they do with them is of little consequence to SA Rugby.”

Moemi said the current situation is unfortunate as many people can’t afford pay television.

“The Springboks have never really been seen live on SABC platforms and as the department of sport we think that this is unfortunate‚" he said.

"SuperSport works on the principle of exclusivity where they argue that if you were to see what they offer for free on SABC‚ you won’t buy a decoder.

SuperSport trucks parked in the Orlando Stadium precinct.
SuperSport trucks parked in the Orlando Stadium precinct.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

“That is a purely commercial consideration.

"They have ring-fenced themselves on the principle of exclusivity to say whatever they show you‚ you must only see it from them and that it makes a compelling case for you to buy a decoder.

"From a commercial transaction it makes perfect sense‚ however‚ from a sport sense of saying sports of national importance must be seen by the poor and the public‚ there is a serious political consideration that must be made.”

Moemi added that in a country where the system allows for pay channels‚ things must be balanced.

“You find that the current Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) regulations are not empowering in a sense that they have put a burden on SABC to acquire specific rights and they are forced to buy for whatever amount.

"Should we continue with that system? Certainly not.

“SuperSport have put conditions in those rights and it is something called delayed live.

"It means the match starts on SuperSport and right towards the end of the second half it only starts on SABC.

"By the time half time comes on SABC‚ the match has already finished and the poor are still glued to the screen watching.”