South Africa’s Department of Communications and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) ware increasing pressures on major sports organisers to broadcast their events on free-to-air TV as they are in the ‘public interest’.
Local reports say that a parliamentary presentation by ICASA said that events like the Olympic games as well as rugby, soccer, netball and cricket and their world cup tournaments should be shown on free-to-air channels such as SABC and eTV.
The move has been backed by South Africa’s Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who added that sports have a significant role to play in South Africa’s social cohesion and reduction of inequality.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said that regulations were being introduced to help with the balancing act and ensure that ordinary South Africans are also being served.
As to the current hold on these key events by pay-TV operators, she added that pay-subscribers would not be disadvantaged by these regulations and that businesses would still be allowed to make money and grow.
However, a response to the proposed plan by the Democratic Alliance political party’s Phumzile van Damme said that public broadcaster SABC simply did not have the cash to acquire international TV broadcasting rights.
Van Damme said it would be impossible for the SABC to send its own cameras and crews to international sporting events as they are highly regulated, that broadcast rights are expensive and sold as part of global bidding.
She added that international sports bodies were highly unlikely to give the SABC preferential rates on broadcasting rights, while ICASA could not prevent companies such as DStv’s SuperSport from bidding for rights.