SABC shifts blame for TV fiasco
Johannesburg - Acting SABC CEO Phil Molefe has accused French-based sports rights agency SportFive of inflating match broadcasting prices.
South Africa was not the only African nation refusing to pay up, he told a select parliamentary committee on labour and public enterprises on Wednesday.
Molefe said a match, such as the Bafana Bafana v Niger African Cup of Nations qualifier that SABC failed to screen live on Sunday, would have cost in the order of R5 million while broadcasting rights were still held by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Since CAF gave the rights to French-based SportFive in March, the price had gone up tenfold. This posed problems for several cash-strapped African public broadcasters.
"The fees were inflated... It is way above the going rate," Molefe said when criticised about the debacle.
"This (situation) is not unique to the SABC. Nigeria had a blackout on their match with Madagascar. We have heard that SportFive wanted about R5.2m. Now, Madagascar is not even placed anywhere in the ratings."
Ghana also refused to pay that kind of money.
Molefe confirmed that he would travel to France next week for further discussions with SportFive about screening rights.
The SABC's failure to reach an agreement with the agency and screen the full match live has been widely criticised.
Molefe has defended the broadcaster's actions, and said it was prepared to go over its budget to bring the match to Bafana fans and pay R1.5 million, but SportFive would not budge.
Eventually, the SA Football Association intervened and raised the broadcasting fee to R2 million.
The much-anticipated game ended in a 2-1 defeat to Bafana. South African fans saw only part of the game live.
The SABC said it started receiving the feed only once the second half had started.
It subsequently refused to pay and accused SportFive of breaching its contract.
Molefe said the SABC had also wanted to negotiate the rights for other matches, but was told it should pay for the single game.