Sports bodies unite against Icasa powerplay

Sports bodies to challenge authority's amendments on sport broadcasting services

03 February 2019 - 00:00 By sazi hadebe and khanyiso Tshwaku

In a strong show of unity, SA's big sports federations and organisations have indicated they will challenge the Independent Communications Authority of SA's (Icasa) proposed amendments to the Sports Broadcasting Services.
The regulatory authority argues that the proposed amendments are aimed at ensuring that "South Africans have access to a wide range of national sporting events and further reflect and give exposure to minority and developmental sport".
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) was first out of the blocks early this week, arguing that if passed, the amendments may result in the shutting down of the league.
"Icasa claims to be making these amendments in the public interest to prohibit subscription broadcasting services from acquiring exclusive rights that prevent or hinder free-to-air broadcasting on any national sporting event as identified as a public interest," said PSL chairman Irvin Khoza, adding that the PSL gets 80% of its revenue from SuperSport International.
In response to Khoza's fears, Icasa's spokesperson Paseka Maleka said their view was that all sporting organisations, including the PSL, understand the rationale behind the review of the regulations as they have engaged them prior to the publication of the draft regulations.
"Icasa does not know if there is any threat to the PSL existence. We will know if the PSL can make formal submissions by the closing date (March 15)," said Maleka.
Safa acting CEO Russell Paul reiterated Khoza's concerns.
"Safa, like most sporting federations in the country, cannot agree with the proposals being made by Icasa and will vehemently oppose them," said Paul.
"While Icasa came to hear what we had to say, it is clear that they heard nothing we told them."
An SA Rugby spokesperson said the organisation has been participating in the drafting of the regulations but will take part in further consultations to ensure their views and ideas are represented.
"We will make a further submission as well as attend the public hearings where we will be repeating that changes to the status quo pose a critical threat to our sport and our players."
Cricket SA is in a different position as all their home games across all formats (Test, ODI and T20) are available on free-to-air television.
The same also applies for their International Cricket Council engagements (World Cup, T20 World Cup and Champions Trophy) but their away tours aren't available on free-to-air.
CSA's CEO Thabang Moroe said the organisation has seen the draft regulations but their split rights for home games puts them in a different category.
Moroe said they've had meetings with Icasa and they'll do so when the opportunity arises again.
"Our content is maintained between the two platforms and we'd like to maintain the relationship going forward. However, it's not for us to decide and we need to sit with all our partners and the board to see how these relations will work going forward.
"It's not for us to answer whether these regulations are necessary or not."
MultiChoice's group executive for corporate affairs, Joe Heshu, said the company has noted Icasa's intention of reviewing the regulations and they will also be participating fully in the process. Multichoice is the holding company of SuperSport, who hold the broadcasting rights for football, rugby and cricket in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
"We are reviewing these draft regulations and will provide a comprehensive response," Heshu said.

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