Bafana Nations Cup qualifier blackout shock as SABC’s financial crisis escalates

Safa’s R1-billion deal with pay-TV company Siyaya TV three years ago collapsed when regulations that demand Bafana matches to be broadcast on the public broadcaster frustrated the agreement.
Safa’s R1-billion deal with pay-TV company Siyaya TV three years ago collapsed when regulations that demand Bafana matches to be broadcast on the public broadcaster frustrated the agreement.
Image: Jung Yeon-Je /AFP/Getty Images

The nation’s soccer lovers face a Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana blackout after it emerged on Monday that the cash-strapped South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is too broke to broadcast national team matches.

Attempts to negotiate a new Bafana and Banyana contract have hit a dead end as the SABC owes the South African Football Association (Safa) over R50-million from the previous agreement that ended in April.

Unimpressed Safa CEO Dennis Mumble told TimesLIVE that the SABC has displayed an indifferent attitude towards football and there’s a strong possibility that Bafana’s 2019 African Nations Cup qualifiers against Libya in September and the Seychelles in October will not be broadcast on television and radio.

“They (the SABC) have just been refusing to enter into an agreement with us because they say they do not have any money‚” Mumble said.

“So what they want to do is substantially reduce the fee that we charge them or they paid during the last contract.

We have been negotiating since January of this year and we have not got anywhere because there is no appetite for football on the SABC. That is my impression.”

This news will stun the nation’s soccer lovers as they are still reeling after the public broadcaster’s empty coffers led to the SABC failing to broadcast the opening weekend of the Absa premiership.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said he was in a board meeting and was not available comment on Monday.

Mumble did not mince his words and questioned the public broadcaster’s commitment to broadcasting the local game.

"You would probably have to ask them (SABC) exactly how important is the national team to the public broadcaster‚” he said.

“In the last two discussions we have had with them‚ and this is with the top leadership of the SABC‚ the position was ‘we do not have money and we want to be a responsible broadcaster and therefore we cannot spend money. Can you please help us convince government to give us money.’“We are negotiating with a partner who has not commercialised the property that we gave them‚ given that Bafana Bafana is the single most important and valuable sports property in this country by far...... but we are not being paid.“The ratings have shown historically what Bafana have been able to present. (But) to them (the SABC) Bafana is simply not valuable property to broadcast and therefore it needs public money in order to support the national team. So go figure that one.”

Vuyo Mhaga‚ the spokesperson for Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa‚ said they hoped to get Safa‚ the PSL and the communications ministry under one roof by the end of the week and tackle the spiralling problem.

‘‘All of us understand the financial situation the SABC finds itself in and engagements with the various parties will happen throughout the week‚” he said.

‘‘Naturally we want this situation to be resolved as soon as possible.

‘‘Hopefully we will have everybody under one roof by the end of the week so that we can know the extent of the problem and what is holding things up.”

Safa’s R1-billion deal with pay-TV company Siyaya TV three years ago collapsed when regulations that demand Bafana matches to be broadcast on the public broadcaster frustrated the agreement.

“We were forced to do business with the SABC three years ago‚” Mumble said.

‘‘We had a broadcast plan in place that would have given us substantially more money than what we were getting from the SABC but because we were forced by government to go to the SABC we understood at the time.“We understand the position the SABC is in at this time but that is neither here nor there because what is happening is that our national teams are not being broadcast by the national broadcaster and consequently there is no income.“Given that the bulk of our income for development comes from our broadcast revenue‚ it will end up becoming a disaster for Safa.“That’s the position we are in right now because we were forced to go to the SABC. The joint venture (with Siyaya TV) that we had was literally undermined because of this relationship and giving Bafana to the public broadcaster.”

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