SAFA vs SABC war of words continues after blackout of Bafana against Nigeria qualifier

A file photo of SABC Outside Broadcast vans parked in the Peter Mokaba Stadium precinct in Polokwane.
A file photo of SABC Outside Broadcast vans parked in the Peter Mokaba Stadium precinct in Polokwane.
Image: BackpagePix

The South African Football Association (Safa) has said that they tried to give South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) every opportunity to broadcast Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Bafana Bafana and Nigeria‚ but that the SABC declined.

In a press release Safa said the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria at FNB Stadium‚ plus the Mandela Challenge match against Paraguay at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday night‚ were offered to SABC at a cut rate.

The statement‚ titled‚ “SAFA apologises for no SABC broadcast of AFCON qualifier”‚ stated that the SABC declined these offers.

Safa’s statement read: “SAFA wishes to apologise to the nation and the football loving public for the fact that the SABC failed to broadcast the Bafana Bafana vs Nigeria Afcon qualifier this afternoon.

“SAFA had taken the initiative to seek a resolution to the impasse as early as the first week of November‚ and made the SABC an offer to broadcast the Bafana vs Nigeria and the Nelson Mandela Challenge‚ by attempting to conclude a match-by-match agreement.

“In this instance‚ SAFA offered the matches to the SABC for a rights fee of R10-million. The SABC declined this offer by SAFA.

“SAFA then continued to engage the SABC‚ in the hope that it would be able to ensure that the nation had an opportunity to watch the match on SABC.

"In this regard‚ SAFA then took the initiative to reduce its rights fee request from the original R10-million to R7‚5-million. Again the SABC declined this gesture made by SAFA.

“Late last [Friday] evening‚ discussions continued‚ and the SABC indicated it wanted to broadcast the match‚ but it did not have the funds available.

"SAFA again conceded to the SABC that it was willing to negotiate a payment plan‚ in the interest of ensuring that the nation would be able to watch the match.

“However‚ the SABC failed to answer this request in writing by (Saturday morning)‚ 17 November 2018.

“Later in the day‚ prior to the match‚ approaches were again made via the Ministry of Communications‚ requesting SAFA to allow the SABC to broadcast the match‚ and that operationally the parties would resolve the payment structure post the match.

“Again SAFA agreed to this process‚ and immediately authorised Caf/Supersport to release the feed to the SABC.

“To SAFA’s surprise‚ it noted that the match was not being broadcast on the SABC platform‚ and once again wishes to apologise to the nation for the fact that they have not been able to watch the match on SABC.

“However‚ SAFA has done everything humanly possible to afford the SABC the opportunity to broadcast the match on its platforms.

“It therefore saddens SAFA that there is no consideration for the public‚ and the persistence by the SABC of supporting foreign football and entities with the South African taxpayer’s money is depriving the nation and football loving public of their right to watch their national team.”

In what has become a war of the words between the two parties‚ the SABC issued their own statement and claimed that they made a "commercially viable offer" that was rejected by Safa.

"The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)‚ would like to place on record that it made a commercially viable offer that would enable it to deliver football matches to South African audiences on SABC platforms and this offer was rejected by SAFA‚" said the public broadcaster.

"This followed the expiry of the previous contract between SAFA and the SABC.

"The high cost of sports rights coupled with low revenues has played a critical role in the solvency of the Corporation.

"The offer put to SAFA for a new agreement was based on the revenue the SABC has made on the sports rights.

"Furthermore‚ the offer excluded the full production costs and marketing costs the SABC would incur in the broadcast of matches.

"SAFA matches have not traditionally drawn any fans to stadiums‚ with stadiums generally being less than a quarter filled.

"The SABC has played a critical role in profiling our national football teams despite empty stadiums by broadcasting on the biggest television platform namely‚ SABC1.

It is unfortunate that the SABC and SAFA legal dispute is in the public domain‚ but the SABC remains committed to engaging SAFA on fair terms."

Safa and the SABC have been deadlocked in negotiations to renew their broadcast contract.

The association have said they have rejected an offer from the cash-strapped public broadcaster of R10-million‚ down from last year’s R110-million.

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