Minister of Sport, Zizi Kodwa, is optimistic that South Africans will be able to watch the 2023 Rugby World Cup on the national broadcaster, the SABC.
Kodwa is urging the SABC and current rights holder, SuperSport, to find common ground for the benefit of all South Africans.
The impasse between the two entities threatens to deprive ordinary South Africans of the upcoming Rugby World Cup, as the SABC faces challenges in meeting MultiChoice’s (who own SuperSport) demand for R38 million.
On Saturday, SuperSport released a statement stating that it had not reached an agreement with the SABC for the sub-licensing of broadcast rights to the World Cup – despite making various proposals to the public broadcaster on reasonable commercial terms.
Speaking during the handover of the Pitso Mosimane Multipurpose Sports Court to Lofentse Girls High School in Orlando, Soweto, on Tuesday – Kodwa said he was confident the World Cup matter will be resolved by Friday when the tournament starts.
“You must remember what I said earlier when we took office — that access to sport is an instrument of mass participation. And by access to sport I meant across all sports codes,” said the Minister.
“That has to do with broadcasting of all sports of national importance. It’s important to give that background to understand the reasons when we heard the issues, and statements that were thrown left and right in public, declaring a dispute between SuperSport and the SABC.”
This morning, I have been engaging with Communications and @CommsZA Minister @MondliGungubel_, and with @SABCPortal CEO Nada Wotshela, COO Ian Plaatjes and Head of Sport Keletso Totlhanyo relating to the #RWC2023 broadcasting rights matter between SABC and @SuperSportTV. pic.twitter.com/RKO4tzk9TS
— Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture (@zizikodwa) September 4, 2023
However, the Minister was also quick to point out that he does not see how SuperSport will benefit from SABC acquiring the rights.
“If you look at what makes commercial sense, I don’t think either of them will be able to win commercially, but what emerges must be in the national interest. I’m very hopeful as they, SABC, met today. SuperSport is waiting for a call from SABC to ensure this matter is resolved. I’m very interested to find a solution to this matter by the time the tournament starts on Friday.”
The Minister also said that the issue of radio rights has been settled and that South Africans will be able to listen to SABC radio stations for World Cup commentary.
“There’s a history to this matter, which is before the Competitions Commission. We hope the Competitions Commission [resolves] issues of monopoly, issues of broadcasting rights.
“I’m not going to mislead you and say by Friday the World Cup opening ceremony will be on SABC. But the commitment I have from those negotiating is that in the national interest, let’s make sure that at the start of the tournament on Friday, including on Sunday when we play Scotland, South Africans will have an opportunity to watch their best games.”
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari