The TV blackout is over ... and about time too
SAINT Aurelius Augustine once wrote that "in doing what we ought, we deserve no praise because it is our duty."
It is for this reason that I refuse to give the SABC a pat on the back for its commitment to cover our national soccer matches.
It is their responsibility to do this, not so?
The public broadcaster guaranteed that fixtures featuring Bafana Bafana, the Under-23s and Banyana Banyana will receive preference for the next 36 months in the newly signed deal with the South African Football Association. The contract is said to be worth R215million.
The SABC's announcement, I must say, was the sweetest news to my ears and no doubt those of millions of football-mad South Africans.
The fans have been badgering the public broadcaster to take them seriously when it comes to total football coverage and I'm happy that their pleas were finally heard by the SABC.
Or is it simply a case of the bosses at Auckland Park finally coming to their senses?
Whatever the case, we are happy at the development and we cannot wait for the launch of the SABC sports channel planned for October 1.
Isn't it long overdue?
Listen to these sweet words from SABC group chief executive Lulama Mokhobo on Tuesday: "The days of (TV) blackouts are over.
"Not even a tsunami (I say even Generations) will move it.
"We have laid out scheduling for the next 36 months and even our advertisers will be happy because they won't second-guess whether the SABC schedule will change or not.
"Every single game will be live, and the new digital channel will be high quality with better commentators."
Look, we have been "watching" a lot of live soccer matches on radio and it is high time that we see real action on the small screen.
The SABC has been performing a balancing act for quite some time and the people who suffered in the end were football devotees.
Generations followers always had the last laugh because they received preference over the fans of the No1 sport in the country.
We are tired of "delayed live" broadcast of midweek matches because of Generations.
The SABC incurred widespread derision for giving preference to programmes like Generations ahead of football coverage of midweek matches and we should take comfort from the latest developments.
Let's forgive and forget the trauma that we went through from the SABC with regard to coverage of live soccer matches and embrace the new changes.
Philanthropist Hannah More once wrote that "forgiveness is the economy of the heart. forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits".
So let's forget the past and hope that all the football stakeholders like the mother body and the sponsors come on board and see how they can put together a product with the SABC that will excite the very important stakeholders of the game here - football fans, who pay TV licence fees.
While I'm excited about the new deal, I am uncomfortable that we still have to deal with SportFive, the French company that owns the broadcasting rights to CAF matches.
Really, we don't need to pay SportFive millions of rands to beam Bafana away matches. I mean really!
Last year the nation missed out on a live broadcast of Bafana's vital Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger in Niamey after SportFive demanded what the public broadcaster described as an "exorbitant" broadcast rights fee.
We were headed for another TV blackout when Bafana hosted Sierra Leone in a crucial Afcon qualifier in Nelspruit, until Safa reached a last-minute deal with SportFive thanks to the intervention of Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.
The SABC agreed on a fee of R3million for that clash to be televised and the mother body was to pay R1,2million as part of the deal.
We can't afford to continue paying millions to SportFive to watch our own matches. The money could be better channelled into football development that is seriously lacking in the country.
Safa continues to oppose the centralising of CAF's broadcasting rights and marketing.
SportFive are not the custodians of our football and we don't owe them a cent to have to watch our Bafana matches live.
They should solve their contractual obligations with CAF and leave us out of the set-up.
Enough is enough!