Another World Cup, another SABC broadcast bungle. Or is it another MultiChoice bungle?
Just over a month since it resolved the free-to-air rights for the Rugby World Cup, this time the public broadcaster is ensnared in another broadcast rights fight with MultiChoice for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.
It really is hard to say who is at fault, given how these are events that happen regularly every four years, except many South Africans will now miss the Proteas’ usual early exit.
MultiChoice released a statement on Tuesday, hitting the negotiations for a six.
“After prolonged negotiations, the SABC last night rejected MultiChoice’s latest proposal for a possible sub-license of broadcast rights to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on the basis of the proposed licence fee,” MultiChoice said in a statement.
“This is notwithstanding MultiChoice offering the rights to the SABC on significantly reduced commercial terms, given its current circumstances. MultiChoice is disappointed at the rejection of its various proposals.”
That’s just not cricket
The SABC, er, hit back with a boundary drive statement of its own.
“The SABC has once again been disadvantaged in securing the broadcasting rights of one of the sporting codes classified as a sport of national interest by Icasa due to the non-affordable sublicensing fees and restrictive conditions imposed by MultiChoice,” the SABC said, referring to the Independent Communications Authority of SA.
“This development is regrettable, and the corporation would like to apologise to all cricket fans and all South Africans.”
This is obviously the first round in a by now predictable routine, which we have seen play out for previous world cups. Both sides blame each other, but it’s hard to know where the root of the problems lie.
Meanwhile, the country’s other broadcaster, eMedia, is suing MultiChoice over the SABC’s rights to the Rugby World Cup, which prevent the matches from being broadcast over eMedia’s Openview free-to-air satellite service.
There’s lots of on-field (legal) action, but not enough viewing for the sports-watching public who rely on the SABC and Openview for their match-day dose of sport.