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We broadcast soccer matches at a loss, says the SABC

The SABC has spent more than R2.1bn on showing PSL matches.
The SABC has spent more than R2.1bn on showing PSL matches.
Image: BackpagePix

The SABC has lost more than R2.3bn in six years as a result of broadcasting football on radio and televisions.

The losses from flighting PSL, Bafana Bafana and CAF matches from 2012 to 2018 have seen the public broadcaster losing R398m annually.

This was revealed by COO Chris Maroleng in Auckland Park yesterday. This came as the cash-strapped public broadcaster battled to reach terms with South African Football Association (Safa) over broadcasting Bafana matches.

Maroleng said the SABC had only raked in R535m revenue from an investment of R2.9bn into football broadcast rights in six years. The SABC is at risk of losing broadcast rights to Bafana matches and the PSL as it's unable to raise funds.

Maroleng revealed that:

• The SABC has spent more than R2.1bn on showing PSL matches with rights coming at R1.6bn, while broadcast production cost saw R522m spent. Only R466m was made from the PSL matches;

• On Bafana matches, the SABC spent R462m on securing the rights from Safa, while production costs amounted to R65m. Only R48m was recorded in revenue; and

• CAF matches cost the SABC R269m with another R14m spent on production, while only R20.6m revenue was recorded. Losses from CAF matches amounted to R262m over the last six years.

Maroleng said they've seen a total liability of more than R1.2bn in the last two years on total sport broadcast rights, with spending on the PSL and Safa alone amounting to R700m. He said the SABC was still faced "with an unfunded mandate" as broadcast regulator, Icasa, stipulated about 22 sporting codes of national interest that it had to cover.

The SABC now has a funding gap of R491m in the 2019/2020 financial year, which is expected to drop to around R434m in 2020/2021 but rise to R591m in 2021/2022, to its projections.

"This three-year period sees an escalation in the expenses that are incurred and the cost structure of the SABC to fulfill this unfunded mandate, at the same time what we are indicating is the gab that exists between what SABC's discretionary investment is in these sporting codes," Maroleng said.

The broadcaster is still negotiating with the PSL on radio broadcast rights for public service radio stations.

Maroleng confirmed that SABC Outside Broadcast equipment, crew and vans were denied access into FNB Stadium during Saturday's CAF qualifier between Bafana and the Seychelles.

Maroleng said even though their contract with Safa had expired in May, "a survival clause" in the contract gave the SABC rights to at least three matches. "This past weekend we deployed outside broadcast facilities which were denied access, interesting enough by Safa, to the venue." SABC acting head of sport, Renee Williams, said due to their dire financial situation, they opted not to bring an urgent court application against Safa.

"Our position is that we're not in a financial position to fight it out in courts, we're hoping to get to an understanding with Safa contractually; our lawyers and their lawyers, we are of the opinion that they [Safa] owe us two matches."

Maroleng said they will broadcast the next two Bafana matches - against the Seychelles today and Nigeria.

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