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TV rights
South Africa

Major sports events could be broadcast for free under new law

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) have launched a draft bill which would seek to break-up SuperSport’s TV rights monopoly, bringing major sporting events back to free-to-view channels.

The proposed Draft Sports Broadcasting Services Amendment Regulations 2018 seeks to ensure that high-interest events – such as the Olympics and the World Cups for cricket, rugby and soccer – are accessible to all South African citizens. As MyBroadband report, the regulator states this move will “advance the human dignity” of viewers.

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TV rights: What sports could soon be free to watch

Currently, SABC broadcasts one Premier League game live per weekend. However, their international rugby coverage is usually on a time-delay, and rights to the Olympics are universally held by SuperSport.

This potential new law would increase what free-to-air institutions are allowed to broadcast, and the changes would allow such channels to broadcast live from the biggest events in the world. It also suggests more T20, athletics and AFCON coverage should be shown as part of the revolution.

However, as exciting as these plans are, there are a few stumbling blocks along the way. Institutions like SABC and eTV would have to apply for the TV rights first. With both operating on a tight budget – and the former officially bankrupt – there may not be enough cash in the kitty to get things off the ground.

What do SuperSport pay to broadcast live sport?

Another obstacle facing the bill is just how much money SuperSport ploughs into South African sport. Their monopoly contributes to more than R650 million of SA Rugby’s budget, and they’re responsible for a R2 billion annual investment to keep their TV rights. Halting that dominance could see a lot of local sporting organisations enter financial difficulty.

The bill remains open for public consultation until 4 February. After all feedback has been received, both ICASA and the government will work together to decide how viable implementation would be.

This article was published by The South African,
and written by Alexis Haden.

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