SABC's sport broadcasting rights conundrum and opportunities : public's interest versus commercial interest

23 Dec 2020

The focus of this paper is on the South African Broadcasting Cooperation (SABC)'s management of sport broadcasting rights. Globally, the television broadcasting rights of football matches have moved from a matter of the public's interest to exorbitant deals that benefit the few. The pay per view television companies have infiltrated the sport broadcasting rights market. Undoubtedly, the recent television blackout of South African's senior national male football team popularly known as Bafana Bafana left many football followers fuming and frustrated in the country. The television blackout was as a result of SABC's failure to buy the television broadcasting rights from the South African Football Association (SAFA). Thus, the South African public cannot watch their national team on the public broadcaster's television platforms. Football is a number one sport in South Africa, which makes Bafana Bafana a national assert. Their decision to prioritise cricket and the English Premier League's (EPL) broadcasting rights for commercial interest goes against their mandate to operate in the public's interests. Yes, a public broadcaster is mandated to serve the public for the benefit of the public. According to South African's Broadcasting Act 4 of 1999, the public broadcaster is mandated to broadcast the national sport teams both on television and radio. SABC and SAFA had a good relationship before, where SABC was able to reach an agreement with SAFA during sports broadcasting rights deals. This discourse analysis paper interrogates the manner in which the public broadcaster handles Bafana Bafana's television rights.