Cape Town - SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has warned that rugby in the country will die in the next five years if plans to change broadcasting regulations go ahead.
Roux was speaking in front of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in Centurion on Tuesday where he responded against draft amendments to broadcasting regulations that would see national sporting events of nationwide importance receive full free-to-air coverage.
It's no secret that South African rugby is facing a player exodus and Roux said the new proposed TV plans could be the death knell for the game.
"Our doors will close in the next five years if these regulations are implemented‚" he said, as quoted by the Rugby Pass website.
"Exclusivity is key in sport and the current regulations strike a good balance. But at this rate there won't be sport in five years and there won't be the Springboks."
ICASA wants to amend the sport broadcasting services regulations of national sporting events that are of national importance to receive full live coverage on free-to-air television.
Events lined up for free to air television are the Olympic Games‚ Paralympics‚ Soccer World Cup‚ men’s and women’s Africa Cup of Nations, Rugby World Cup‚ Cricket World Cup‚ International Boxing Federations‚ national Netball‚ Commonwealth Games and IAAF events.
Roux added that 57 percent of SA Rugby's revenue comes from broadcasting‚ 26 percent from sponsorship and 17 percent from Tests‚ events and grants.
"Rugby is a business‚ we don't receive money from government (0.3% to be exact)‚ we don't have charitable status and we have zero donors. We don't have a rich uncle or a trust fund‚ we don't pay dividends or make payment profits for shareholders.
"The income we earn is reinvested for the benefit of rugby and South Africans. Sponsorships will never cover the value of broadcasting revenue and without income and funding we will have no sport. Our plea is to protect the sport which is a national asset because it will not survive. We will not have funding to start grassroots projects and in sport around the world‚ exclusivity is the basis on which rights are sold."
Earlier this year, Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairperson Irvin Khoza issued a warning similar to Roux when he threatened to 'shut down' the PSL in response to ICASA seeking to amend public broadcasting rights.
"ICASA wants to do this after the hard work we have put in? Players would not be getting paid as much if it was not for our current funding model. The current broadcast deal took work and time," said Khoza.
"We did not break the law. Everything we did was within the framework. We did the work necessary. The broadcast deal has had an enormous impact on the state of SA football. Without it the PSL dies.
"Without adequate funding, this industry as we know it will collapse and will be back to what it was back in the 1980s. Clubs will cut support staff to the bone and our grant of R11m to SAFA will no longer be available.
"I hope this is an error from ICASA, but it is also a form of exclusion. They did not consult or try to understand our industry.
"We will defend ourselves rigorously. We will exhaust all options available to us. If it is not resolved, we will shut down the PSL."