Daily Dispatch

Icasa move to hurt SA sports


To say South Africans are truly a sports-crazy nation demanding only the best the sporting codes can bring to the country is not an understate­ment.

To enhance the attraction of the games sporting bodies, including club owners, will fork out top dollar to get the best available talent in pursuit of lucrative “pots of gold”.

Indeed money is crucial, no wonder the big three codes – rugby, soccer and athletics – look to the millions they receive from TV rights for broadcasti­ng their games.

They also, to a lesser degree, bank on the corporate world for additional funding.

However there is a school of thought that major sporting events are shut to a significan­t number of South Africans, who do not have the wherewitha­l to pay exorbitant subscripti­ons to watch these matches on TV.

The Independen­t Communicat­ions Authority of SA (Icasa) has submitted draft regulation­s to sporting bodies indicating it would prefer a wider audience be catered for.

For this to happen major events will have to be broadcast on free-to-air channels such as the SABC, forcing the federation­s to share their content with the public broadcaste­r. The nub of this is that it will be a hard sell to accrue a better financial deal for television rights. It means that DStv would have to share the following sports rights with the SABC – Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Commonweal­th Games, Soccer and Cricket World Cups.

It will also have to give up broadcasti­ng rights to a number of smaller sports codes and events.

There has been push-back from domestic and internatio­nal bodies that this is crazy and will affect events organised by the IOC, Commonweal­th Games, Internatio­nal Cricket Council and Fifa.

These major sporting federation­s warn that these regulation­s will prove the death knell of a number of leagues. Rugby, soccer and athletics have expressed outrage that as it stands their financial wellbeing will be hard hit with the sports events suffering greatly, if not crippled.

It has been stated, that sporting unions could end up losing as much as 80% of their funding.

The SA Rugby Union fear that without that revenue it will be forced to cancel the Currie Cup competitio­n with football boss Irvin Khoza warning that the PSL may also eventually end up shutting shop.

Icasa however feels the federation­s are making a mountain out of a molehill.

But have they considered what the financial damage will be in the longterm? Sport in this country will die. A rethink is called for.

There has been push-back from domestic and internatio­nal bodies that this is crazy and will affect events

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