THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Thursday, May 28, 2015

SABC lying over having Bafana Bafana TV broadcasting rights say Siyaya TV and SAFA; Siyaya TV says its actually busy negotiating with e.tv.


The SABC is lying over claims to have secured Bafana Bafana TV rights to show any national team soccer games on television and no valid contract with the SABC exists, pay-TV operator Siyaya TV and SAFA say.

In a joint statement, the South African Football Association (SAFA) and Siyaya TV, the new pay-TV consortium, said the SABC is lying.

It comes after the public broadcaster's famously matricless and highly controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng on Wednesday said the SABC and SAFA have reached a 3-year agreement over the broadcasting rights to show all local Bafana Bafana games, Banyana Banyana, as well as the men's under-20 and under-23 games.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng went on SABC2's Morning Live on Wednesday to announce the deal - which Siyaya TV and SAFA say doesn't exist.

Siyaya TV which got its pay-TV licence from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) in November 2014, now threatens to sue the SABC if for instance the Banyana 2016 Olympic qualifying game on Sunday against Gabon is broadcast.

Siyaya TV owns the rights to all of the national soccer games after the consortium last year signed a R1 billion contract with SAFA in a 6-year deal and says it's actually busy negotiating with Sabido's free-to-air commercial TV channel e.tv to show the national soccer games.

After Hlaudi Motsoeneng bragged on Morning Live over securing the rights, the SABC also issued a press statement in which it said the SABC's agreement to show Bafana and other national team games will run from 2015 to 2017, with the SABC giving soccer-loving South Africans "an opportunity to see their national teams in action".

"The SABC will continue to prioritize sports of national importance," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng, while the SABC statement also included a quote from SAFA CEO, Dennis Mumble, saying "We value the loyal audience that the SABC has always delivered to our national teams and have agreed to partner with the SABC to strenghten that bons with our supporters. We thank the SABC for ensuring the South African public enjoys the national teams on live television and radio".

In a joint statement from SAFA and Siyaya TV, the two organisations say "SAFA wishes to place on record that Siyaya TV is and will remain a long-term strategic broadcast partner of SAFA. We emphatically reject any speculation or statements to the contrary."

"The partnership between the two parties [SAFA and Siyaya TV] has enabled SAFA to take its broadcast platform to an entirely new level, which will now enable soccer-loving fans greater access to the beautiful game".

In another separate statement Siyaya TV's founder Aubrey Tau launched a scathing attack on the SABC and Hlaudi Motsoeneng's claims, saying the public broadcaster is lying over having any broadcasting rights.

"The SABC does not hold any of the broadcasting rights to Bafana matches, and therefore cannot claim otherwise. Any position taken by the SABC that it holds the Bafana Bafana broadcast rights is false and misleading," says Siyaya TV.

"Siyaya TV is the sole and exclusive owner of these rights, in terms of its signed contract with SAFA".

Aubrey Tau says Siyaya TV approached the SABC two months ago in order to discuss the granting of free-to-air broadcasting rights to the SABC, but that Siyaya TV was "summarily rejected by the SABC who refused to deal with Siyaya TV on the matter".

"Siyaya TV has since not heard directly from the SABC, but has in the meantime been in talks with SAFA regarding the possible granting of free-to-air broadcast rights to the SABC, and is at the same time also engaged with e.tv in similar discussions".

"Siyaya TV has made no commitments to and signed no contracts with any other broadcasters regarding the soccer broadcasting rights, and remains the sole and exclusive owner of these rights at this point in time," says Aubrey Tau.