South Africa’s broadcasting regulator ICASA has unveiled its draft laws designed to make key sporting events free to viewers.
ICASA’s Draft Sports Broadcasting Services Amendment Regulations are expected to severely impact the broadcasting monopoly that the country’s pay-TV giant DStv has on sports.
The new rules, if adopted, are likely to dramatically cut the cash that flows to sports-rights owners from broadcasting. The official aim of the draft regulations is to “reach a wider audience [for sport] and to strike a balance between audience and revenue”, as well as to “advance equality [and] human dignity through access to sport of national interest to all citizens”.
For example, the CEO of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) Jurie Roux says 55 percent of his sport organisation’s revenue comes from television rights, predominantly the SuperSport cluster of channels owned by MultiChoice/DStv.
The draft rules say: “Subscription broadcasting services may not acquire exclusive rights that prevent or hinder the free-to-air broadcasting of national sporting events.”
However, the new rules might make life equally difficult for public broadcaster SABC which is near-bankrupt and – it is argued locally – cannot begin to pay even a proportion of the fees currently paid by DStv. For example, the nation’s football governing body (SAFA) says that SABC has offered to pay just 10 million Rand, while SAFA currently is seeking 150 million Rand for coverage rights.