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Home > EltasZone > Sport24.co.za | CWC 2019: SABC coverage hangs in balance

Sport24.co.za | CWC 2019: SABC coverage hangs in balance

Cape Town – Just
10 days out from the tantalising opening fixture between South Africa and host
nation England, national broadcaster the SABC has not yet revealed any plans
for coverage of cricket’s World Cup.

All that is
known is that there have been negotiations between SuperSport – the African
rights-holder and subscription-based broadcaster – and bosses at the
cash-challenged parastatal, albeit without any fruits to show yet.

Time is
running short for a resolution to the impasse, with most participating
countries long having finalised their broadcast arrangements in terms of the
crossover between pay and terrestrial television.

In
Australia, for example, Fox Sports will have exclusive broader tournament
satellite rights, with Nine Network offering free-to-air coverage of all Aussie
matches plus the semi-finals and final.

English
coverage, meanwhile, will be dominated by Sky Sports’ satellite offering, with
non-subscribers having to content themselves with regular night-time highlights
packages on Channel 4.

It has been
traditional in the past for the SABC to accept a healthy dollop of games from
SuperSport: usually all Proteas ones plus a fair sprinkling of others, as
occurred at the 2015 World Cup when SABC3 screened live 30 fixtures.

While
attempts to gain clarity on the negotiations from the SABC had been
unsuccessful at the time of writing, SuperSport communications manager Clinton
van der Berg said in a statement: “We have been involved in discussions with
the SABC regarding a sub-licence of free-to-air rights to the Cricket World Cup
for some time.”

He would not
be drawn on information received by Sport24 that the national broadcaster had
initially offered less money for 2019 coverage rights than they did four years ago
for the Australia/New Zealand-staged CWC. 

“As those
discussions are ongoing, we are unfortunately unable to comment on the amount
of fees offered by the SABC.

“In terms of
applicable regulations, we are obliged to enter into discussions with a view to
concluding an agreement on reasonable commercial terms.”

Sources
within the SABC say that there is “apathy and a general lack of will” among the
hierarchy for cricket coverage.

The
situation may be aggravated by the likelihood that their already increasingly
dwindling live major sports coverage will be more heavily geared toward
soccer’s Africa Cup of Nations 2019 in Egypt (June 21 to July 19), which
clashes with significant portions of CWC.

Bafana
Bafana will be taking part for the first time in four years after failing to
crack the nod in 2017.

“Right now
CWC 2019, a global tournament, is uppermost in peoples’ minds … they will be
incredulous if there is no SABC coverage,” one source said.

“It is a
premier tournament; the South Africans could obviously come out winners. The
fact that it is happening in our winter means they have potentially got a
broader TV audience for it: it is great content for winter months, and certainly
radio should also be a necessity.

“But in
essence very little has been heard progress-wise, and the clock is ticking down
… there’s been no easy talk in the negotiations (with SuperSport) so far.”

*No
information has appeared yet on the SABC website over any plans for CWC 2019
coverage, and their official TV scheduling for May 30, the crackerjack date for
the England v South Africa opener at The Oval, currently doesn’t reflect space
for live cricket.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter:
@RobHouwing …

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