SAFA joins growing discontent with ICASA's TV rights plans

SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul addresses the media at Safa House on March 1 2019.
SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul addresses the media at Safa House on March 1 2019.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

The South African Football Association (Safa) have voiced their opposition to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's (Icasa) draft sports broadcasting services amendment regulations and echoed the many other federations that have strongly argued against its introduction.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL)‚ SA Rugby‚ Boxing SA‚ the South African Cricketer’s Association (Saca)‚ the South African Football Players Union (Safpu)‚ Netball South Africa and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) all made presentations at the public hearings in Centurion this week.

Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul told hearings chairperson Palesa Kadi on Thursday that the proposed regulations show Icasa’s ignorance to the sport.

“The fact that Icasa have listed Caf and Fifa matches down‚ without clarity of which matches these are‚ shows ignorance on the sport‚” said Paul.

“If‚ for example‚ they remain as broad as it reads now‚ this would have a negative impact on the very people they wish to support as the rights would not have any value in South Africa.

"The effects of not wanting to allow sporting federations to negotiate contracts with the broadcaster of its choice‚ is certainly not in the interest of rights holders or licensees in that they (are against) the very essence of deriving revenue for the rights holder.”

Paul added that the idea of forcing federations to hand over their broadcast license without exercising the opportunity to trade in a free market is in contradiction with the Competition Commission.

“If Icasa regulates that sporting federations are obliged to provide their rights to a broadcaster‚ then reciprocally Icasa must regulate that broadcasters be obliged to pay a market related rights fee‚” he said.

“Icasa must license more role players into the market to create a broader market to sell rights to.

"Why is it OK for broadcasters to spend millions on movies‚ soapies and yet they are unwilling to compensate sporting codes in this country appropriately for their rights?”

Kadi said she was surprised by the strong contestation from federations to the proposed regulations.

“It is surprising because everyone talks about the constitution for access matters but now they are bending towards issues of trade as an interest.

"Ours is the mandate of the public as with any other constitutional or regulatory body‚” she said.

“We are seeking a balance between revenue and access to sports by all South Africans.

"This has been done over time from the 2003‚ 2010 regulations and now we are in 2018.

"We are also seeking further perspectives in so far as what is the landscape of the sporting fraternity in South Africa and the emergence of technology.

“It is also to list developmental and minority sports so that we are able to have a broader spectrum of sports for all South Africans.

"We are aware that this is highly contested in terms of views and we are here to analyse‚ listen to all the critics and also find a position for the regulator.”

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