Rob Houwing

Bafana surely for everyone?

2010-09-10 08:27
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

Of course money talks, more and more, but I still find it hard to believe that national broadcasters the SABC will surrender their rights to screen Bafana Bafana matches live from April next year.

In some respects I can’t blame SAFA CEO Leslie Sedibe for flexing some muscles ahead of “new deal” talks next month (he has warned the currently rather chaotic Auckland Park they risk losing their rights, presumably to Randburg-based SuperSport).

Sedibe called the current contract “ludicrous” and said SAFA were seeking “similar terms” to the deal - R1.6-billion over five years - with SuperSport for PSL matches, struck in 2007.

Such threatening noises were always going to come, I think, given appreciably raised interest in Bafana since the World Cup and the fact that their continued revival subsequently under Pitso Mosimane’s guidance does appear to have some substance.

This is not the most scientific information you’ll ever receive, but I found it educative recently, for instance, when a few of my social soccer friends got together for a midweek beer to watch the South Africa v Ghana friendly on SABC1: the sports club bar in an affluent suburb was packed with the sort of punters who would have been way more apathetic toward Bafana prior to 2010.

With the team having earned fresh respect, and possibly support from some new constituencies, SAFA were not going to miss a trick by submissively and speedily signing on the dotted line once more with SABC.

And yet I suspect a fair bit of posturing and power-play is on the go here, with a still strong likelihood that the status quo will eventually prevail.

For one thing, it is hard to imagine key people in the Government not spiritedly taking up the cudgels should Bafana’s presence as a “nationally accessible” TV commodity be threatened by an ambitious SuperSport pounce on the live rights.

Any such move would have huge repercussions for millions of ordinary South Africans, of course, who loyally follow Aaaron Mokoena’s troops through staple SABC coverage and who are light years shy of the financial means to invest in DStv or even – especially in more far-flung areas – get to a television with satellite access.

Still, in a largely free-market environment brutal decisions do get taken: I would not completely rule out the possibility that “delayed live on SABC” one day becomes the harsh reality!

But I wonder at what cost to Bafana’s most passionate fans -- there is just no substitute, really, for viewing major sport authentically live, is there?

Rob’s awesome foursome:


1. Lions v Mumbai Indians, Champions League T20 cricket
Johannesburg, Friday 17:30, SS2 & HD

I’m old enough to remember when the South African season effectively started with such sedate occasions as the 55-overs Protea Challenge between Transvaal and WP … or even that Kingsmead event they called the Computer Sciences tournament, didn’t they? Nowadays hostilities often begin a little earlier – and 2010/11 kicks off with a strong international flavour, courtesy of the second Airtel CLT20. This is the opening match in the star-studded, 10-team competition, hopefully drawing a rosy turnout to the Bullring. The Warriors, the other local participants, may have a slightly easier ride on Saturday (13:30, same channels plus CSN) against Sri Lanka’s Wayamba.

2. Cheetahs v Blue Bulls, Absa Currie Cup rugby
Bloemfontein, Saturday 17:05, M-Net, M-Net HD & SS1

OK, there was a case for prioritising the final Tri-Nations Test between Australia and New Zealand at Sydney (12:00, SS1, M-Net, M-Net HD). But the 2010 spoils have long been bagged by the All Blacks and, as South Africans, it’s a relief to move on! This Currie Cup match-up is an appealing one, featuring two of the three teams lumped behind the Sharks on 28 points -- and an uncompromising old rivalry anyway. After their stunning second-half comeback to roast the complacent Durbanites at Loftus and breathe new life into their campaign, I back the Bulls to narrowly grab this one too.

3. F1 Italian Grand Prix, motorsport
Monza, Sunday 14:00, SS7

This is the red-letter GP, isn’t it? The one of which you want to say “I was there” and “I brought home the T-shirt”. Milan is tipped to be gloriously sunny for the race, which will pack ‘em in as usual – especially as the drivers’ championship is so tight with a flimsy three points separating leader Lewis Hamilton from Mark Webber. Pole position may be as important as ever, considering that seven of the last 10 races at the famous circuit have been won from that spot. Buy in some Italian ice cream or Chianti for your telly-watch, why don’t you?

4. Manchester United v Rangers, Uefa Champions League soccer
Manchester, Tuesday 20:45, SS3

It’s the start of this season’s keenly-awaited (when isn’t it?) Champions League next week so I thought I’d draw prominent attention to it, despite resumption of the English Premiership this Saturday and also a juicy MTN 8 first leg semi-final between Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs (20:15, SS4). Free channel e.tv are in on the Champs League act alongside SuperSport, as usual, although their own listings don’t yet indicate whether this full-blooded Anglo-Scottish affair is their Tuesday game of choice. Expect extra bobbies on the beat around Old Trafford. Expect also a United win and some yellow cards …

CLICK HERE for the full TV schedule

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