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Hlaudi Motsoeneng on SABC not televising Chiefs in Champions League final: ‘They must be removed’

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the state capture commission on September 10 2019, where he is testifying on allegations made against him at the inquiry.
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the state capture commission on September 10 2019, where he is testifying on allegations made against him at the inquiry.
Image: Masi Losi

Outspoken Hlaudi Motsoeneng has said that the Champions League final between Kaizer Chiefs and Al Ahly on Saturday night would have been televised live on SABC if he was still in charge at the public broadcaster.

The SABC announced on Friday morning that it was surprised and disappointed that the rights for the match had been exclusively sold to pay-channel SuperSport despite the public broadcaster having agreed to the asking price.

Former SABC CEO Motsoeneng‚ however‚ alleged that the final is not being televised on the free-to-air broadcaster because the organisation does not have capable people with necessary negotiating skills to have secured the rights to it. He said they should be removed from their positions.

“If I was there‚ I can tell you that they would be broadcasting that match tomorrow evening‚” he told TimesLIVE on Friday.

“They don’t know how to negotiate and they don’t have the expertise. You can’t be led by people who are complaining about other broadcasters.

“If you are a leader‚ you must come up with solutions. Maybe they don’t understand the public broadcaster or what is the role of the public broadcaster.

“They must be removed. There is no SABC after I left and that one is a given fact.

“There is evidence that after I left the SABC there is no longer SABC. Like I said already‚ they don’t have the necessary skills and they don’t know how to run a public broadcaster.

“During my time‚ I was able to bring Bafana Bafana and you may remember that there were few matches for the SABC from the SuperSport deal with the PSL [Premier Soccer League]‚ but I made sure that we were on par.”

In response to Motsoeneng’s stinging criticism‚ Gary Rathbone‚ the General Manager for Sport at SABC‚ said he had worked in the sports television field for over 20 years‚ and knew its intricacies.

“I’ve got more than 20 years of experience in the sports rights and sports media industry and my experience speaks for itself. I don’t really have more to say to that‚” said Rathbone.

Motsoeneng continued that when he arrived at the SABC as acting COO around 2011‚ sports were barely televised‚ as the broadcaster had lost most of its contracts in that regard. He said he worked tirelessly to bring sport back to free-to-air screens.

“When I arrived at the SABC around 2011‚ sport generally was a blackout. You can remember that the PSL went to MultiChoice [SuperSport]‚ SABC were not able to broadcast Bafana Bafana matches and the same goes to all the sporting codes.

“I prioritised sports because I knew that in the absence of sports you don’t have an audience. I beat the very same MultiChoice during negotiations on many occasions‚ especially when it came to sports or events of national interests.

“If I failed to get the rights outright‚ I would make sure that SABC would broadcast at the same time with MultiChoice.

“When I checked their [the SABC’s] statement [on the rights for the Champipons League final]‚ they are complaining about MultiChoice getting the exclusive rights‚ but I have never seen any leader complaining about other people.

“Citizens expect SABC to broadcast the match between Kaizer Chiefs and Al Ahly because it is a big match for their audience and for South African sports lovers.”

The SABC had complained in their statement on Friday morning that they had tried to attain the rights to the final‚ but been denied them.

“Despite the SABC meeting Caf’s asking price for the free-to-air rights‚ the offer was rejected on the basis that Caf has signed an exclusive deal with SuperSport that covers all rights‚ including the free-to-air rights‚ for this match‚” the statement read.