South Africa news

Live coverage of NZ Tests dropped by SABC

Firdose Moonda

December 19, 2012

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The South African team gather for a photograph after their victory against Australia, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day, December 3, 2012
South Africa's No. 1-ranked Test team will not have their matches shown live on terrestrial TV this summer © AFP
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For the first time since readmission, the majority of South Africa's television viewers could be left without any live Test cricket on their screens for the 2012-13 season. The national broadcaster, the SABC, has decided it will only air Twenty20s and ODIs and show highlights packages of up to two hours from the upcoming Tests against New Zealand.

This comes after it was revealed that the SABC was under financial constraints, which led it to consider not broadcasting any cricket this summer. Cricket South Africa and the SABC were engaged in talks early this week to negotiate and reached a compromise where the free-to-air channel paid ten times less this season compared to last.

In a press release, CSA said it hoped that the following series against Pakistan, which includes three Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is, "will be shown by the SABC in its entirety". The first of two Tests against New Zealand begins on January 2.

"It is a huge disappointment for us that the Tests matches won't be shown live although we are pleased the other games will," Jacques Faul, CSA acting chief executive told ESPNcricinfo. "We want to grow the game and the communities we want to reach out to will not have access to the matches."

Although CSA sold production rights for home internationals to subscription channel SuperSport, it still controls the broadcast rights. The package it sold to SuperSport excludes the free-to-air rights, which CSA holds back for the SABC. "Even though it means we get less money from those rights we carve them out so we can get the free-to-air broadcast," Faul said.

Last season, the SABC reportedly paid in the range of R30 million (US$3.5 million) to broadcast matches. CSA initially offered the SABC a deal for about half that but it was rejected. It has since had to resort to an even lower rights fee, partly because the parties ran out of time to negotiate further. The first match of South Africa's home summer, a T20 international against New Zealand in Durban will be played in two days' time and CSA were anxious for the deal to be sealed.

It has, however, led CSA to question its arrangement with the SABC going forward. "We will definitely assess our relationship with them in future because we do not want to do business like this," Faul said.

CSA's only other option would be to look at an arrangement with e.tv, the other non-subsciption channel in the country. International cricket matches played in South Africa are regarded as "listed sports events" by the Independent Communications Authority, which means they must be available on free-to-air television.

Despite those regulations, the SABC does not believe it has failed its remit. "The decision to broadcast these matches is a clear indication that we take our mandate seriously and we are cognisant that the public of South Africa deserve to see their cricket team," it said in a statement.

Cricket is the second-most popular sport in South Africa and almost five times as many people watch T20 and ODI matches on the SABC compared to SuperSport. Almost seven times more watch Test cricket on the national broadcaster and those could now face a blackout on live coverage. SuperSport will continue to show all matches live and the SABC's main sports radio station, 2000, will provide live ball-by-ball commentary at all the games.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by pardo on (December 21, 2012, 17:16 GMT)

Let's be honest - as a Kiwi I think the SABC are doing you all a favour. This is going to to pretty pitiful TV - most Kiwi rugby followers would eventually tire of watching the ABs play Japan - this is series is the cricketing equivalent! The decision may not be political at all - just cold hard commercial reality that no one will pay for ad space durring 7 hours of stealing candy from a baby. If they did this to you when SA were playing Oz, England or even India I'd have a huge amount of sympathy for you but really - you don't want to watch this. Roll on two division test cricket when we can have five tests series between two teams who can play!

Posted by edgie on (December 20, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

typical of SABC, shows NBA matches but cannot show a sport which it's own national team is the no 1 ranked in the world. Sorry, but this smacks of politics, and NOT money as they lead us to believe.

Posted by menaceSPV on (December 20, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

this is a joke, i feel sorry for people who cant afford DSTV. what a shame and disgrace for the SABC!!! the team are no.1 now and this is how they treat the best team in the world, by not showing the beloved team to its loved public?? 7 times more people watch test cricket than on dstv, come on guys what are you doing with your lives !?!?!?!? i cant believe that they did not come to some sort of deal to show the matches.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

@ brusselslion No the majority of Saffers do not prefer ODIs and other nonsense . Our national broadcaster does not represent what we want to watch in the slightest.

Posted by LBcricket82 on (December 20, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

Not surprised, SABC another ANC failure!

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 7:24 GMT)

Do some countries get free to air sport? Wow... haven't had that for decades here....

Posted by Strongarm on (December 20, 2012, 6:58 GMT)

SA government are quick to step in if sides are not demographically representative (except for soccer). Surely they should demand of the SABC that they broadcast test matches as well. As for radio broadcasts, it is not quite the same to broadcast from tv monitors than it would be to be live at the ground. SABC has failed SA public

Posted by Great_Nate on (December 20, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

@Handalf - you're kiding right? Nobody's fault SABC doesn't have any money? And what about all the corruption and incompetence at the top?

Posted by Geeva on (December 20, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

dont see what the big fuss is....SABC commentators are the worst...DSTV aint expensive Price range 340 to 600 depending what channels you want...And note to all fans in SA y dont you go watch the Test matches live.Cape Town will be well attended we have a great test match culture and hope PE has good crowd last test they had was WI in 2008

Posted by venkatesh018 on (December 20, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

Private satellite right holders having complete control over Test Telecasts is happening the world over... so it is not a surprise..But that doesn't mean it is right. All efforts should be made to take Test cricket to as many people as possible, even if it means a cut in the revenue for Cricket boards.

Posted by On_The_Boundary on (December 20, 2012, 3:51 GMT)

This is simply appalling and a dark day in Test Cricket history. But South African fans needed worry too much, if they want to see international South African cricketers in action, they can watch an England game...

Posted by HawK89 on (December 20, 2012, 3:42 GMT)

Funny, the highlights will show the NZ batsmen falling between a handful of fours and dropped catches. I'll see the same thing live, but with the drinks breaks.

Posted by kjkool82 on (December 20, 2012, 1:06 GMT)

@prashnottz - Australia provides live FTA coverage of all international games on Channel 9, and this will not be allowed to change at all. @Gordo85 - Fox Sports will be showing the games in Oz, they get their feed from Supersport so they arent affected by this.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 21:45 GMT)

Last time I remember seeing a test match in India's National broadcast - Doordharsan is early 90s... From late 90s, they were not showing any cricket matches... And then they started showing T20 and ODI after India-Pak series in 2001-2002 through court intervention.. Public who can't have access to paid channels, can not see Test matches... Young generation living in those places may not know what is test cricket...

Posted by brusselslion on (December 19, 2012, 20:57 GMT)

Another blow to Test cricket. Given that you are the undisputed no.1 in Test cricket at the moment, I'm not sure what more the players can do to inspire the SA public to watch the game. Do most SAs prefer ODIs and the other nonsense? If so, then it won't be long before Test cricket means simply England vs. Australia.

Posted by shiven. on (December 19, 2012, 20:12 GMT)

Absolute rubbish !!!!!!!! Wat do we pay TV license 4 ???

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 16:57 GMT)

SABC are a disgrace. They don't have money? We will see about that when Bafana Bafana play again. So now those who can't afford DSTV must just sit and watch re-runs of Generations or whatever they call it these days. The kind of money the 'big boys' at SABC earn is disgusting if you look at how incompetent they are.

Posted by Gordo85 on (December 19, 2012, 16:25 GMT)

I better be able to watch this on pay TV in Australia or else. If the worst comes to worst for me I will have to listen to it on the radio with Radio 2000 on the net.

Posted by Harmony111 on (December 19, 2012, 15:53 GMT)

This is shocking shocking shocking. SA are the #1 team in the world and their national broadcaster will not show the matches live? NZ may not be the best test team in the world but they are not all that boring, are they? I would have thought the matches would be very exciting even though a SA win was more or less certain. If the oldest form of this lovely game is not given due respect then how will ppl get into it? Pretty soon you will have ppl baulking at the 5 day matches and preferring the ODIs/T20s only. All the forms are imp but Tests are the "ab initio" form and so they are more equal than the other 2 equally imp forms of Cricket. I hope better sense prevails and somehow these matches are shown live.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

Interesting the CSA holds back the free-to-air rights even though that means they receive less money for the rights, compare that to the ECB who have let Sky have every second of live coverage of English cricket, at the expense of those who can't afford Sky. @prashnottz, I'm pretty sure that Channel 9 in Australia is free-to-air.

Posted by palla.avinash on (December 19, 2012, 15:01 GMT)

This is nonsense these kind of things will destroy interest in tests, cant they get a loan or sponsor for no 1 test team i hope sabc arrange many tests with India and gain some money to come out of financial crises.Now players will lose interest in playing tests with such incident what if amla scores another 300 we cant miss it at any cost dude.SABC should do something

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

Another blow to the grass-roots development of cricket in South Africa. You can't really blame the SABC, though - they've been cash-strapped for years. Nobody's fault, I think, but still really sad for our game. I hope the parties involved figure out a way to resolve this eventually.

Posted by prashnottz on (December 19, 2012, 14:15 GMT)

So which country is there which provides FTA live test matches in the world? I know for sure India, the biggest market, doesnt.. and Eng as well.. who else?

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

What the hell!!

Posted by BoundaryWalker on (December 19, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

This is 'good' for the development of Cricket in SA and I am sure this all also push up the sales of ticket sales. NOT!!

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (December 19, 2012, 13:51 GMT)

Now 90% of my fellow countrymen can't watch our No. 1 in the world team play test cricket because they don't have or can't afford satellite tv. So tell me what is the point of having more black African representation in the team if many of the people can't now watch the games anyway cause the don't have satellite tv....? How are these kids meant to get inspired by watching their heros if they can't watch them!!! Unreal!

Posted by Freerider1 on (December 19, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

Although I expected this, it still stinks. SABC should be privatised. They are useless as a national broadcaster.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

They'll have to do a BBC and sell the rights on. Doubtless to a pay-to-view broadcaster, which is sadly where most sports are ending up.

Posted by pandez on (December 19, 2012, 13:28 GMT)

No live coverage of Test played by no. 1 Team, cant get worse than this and players will find it hard to motivate themselves to perform individually.

Posted by duncanmoo on (December 19, 2012, 13:27 GMT)

SA is the number one test playing nation but the SABC could not care less!

Posted by   on (December 19, 2012, 13:20 GMT)

No., 1 Test team in the world, and most of the country can't watch them play. Good job, SABC, good job.

Posted by applethief on (December 19, 2012, 13:07 GMT)

Get to #1 in the test rankings, and then make sure none of your fans can see you play. Inspired thinking.

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