SABC defend EPL rights 'investment'

Posted: 17 October 2018 Time: 10:30

The SABC COO Chris Maroleng has insisted they have not snubbed SAFA, and others, in their acquisition of the broadcast rights for the English Premier League (EPL).

The battle between SAFA and the SABC over their failed efforts to renew the broadcast deal, which expired in May, has seen the two parties break out in a public spat.

There has been a massive outcry against the public broadcaster’s decision to acquire rights to a foreign product such as the EPL, which naturally is assumed to be worth hundreds of millions in Rands, while failing to cough up the funds to bring the South Africa public their own national team.

The SABC's blackout of Bafana’s recent 6-0 drubbing of Seychelles on home soil after they offered a paltry R10-million for a product that has been valued at over R110-million in recent years was at the centre of the criticism.

However, Maroleng has since provided insight into the cash-strapped SABC’s “investment”, and says they have already recovered almost all of the money spent on the acquisition of the EPL rights, due to its massive commercial and public interest.

“With the EPL right now, an investment was made – I cannot give you the specific details of what that was – but it is significantly less than the rights charges of other products,” Maroleng defended.

“What effectively happened is that we acquired these rights from a third party, who are the ultimate holder of these rights. We then, having evaluated the potential return on investment, were able to pay for these rights.

“What has effectively happened is that, without giving financial details, we are in a position where – in terms of sponsorship only, not classic advertising value – we are already 80 percent of the way in recovering the costs that we paid for these rights in August.

“You would be aware that the EPL does have a significant following in South Africa and indeed advertisers, who our funding model for all exploitation of airtime is based on.

“There has been a great demand from the advertisers and sponsors who have been lining up to partner with us in terms of bringing in the EPL. So, I can assure you that the EPL has really been negotiated and brought to the SABC using a very different criteria and framework.

“I think it’s been unfortunate that certain of our detractors have placed on record a view that we will remiss to enter into such commercially lucrative arrangements at the expense of SAFA and others.

“This is an incorrect perspective as the two, in our view, are mutually exclusive. The one requires us to commercially exploit and derive good value for the SABC, while the other one talks to an unfunded mandate which cannot be the burden of the SABC.

“Effectively, what we’re saying is, if the SABC is to subsist as a public broadcaster and indeed carry out its public mandate, we must enter into more lucrative sports deals which ultimately help us offsetting some of the costs.”

Article by: Chad Klate (@CKlatey)

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