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SARU Backs SABC In Crucial Fight To Sustain Rugby

  • July 11, 2024
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SARU Backs SABC In Crucial Fight To Sustain Rugby

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has expressed its support for the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) decision to suspend its planned broadcast of the Springboks’ Castle Lager Incoming Series matches against Ireland.

Mr Mark Alexander, President of SARU, emphasised that while it was his organisation’s desire for Springbok matches to be aired on the national broadcaster, this short-term measure is vital for the long-term viability of the sport.

At the core of the issue is a six-month Competition Tribunal order effectively allowing eMedia to broadcast the SABC’s coverage of Springbok matches on their Openview platform without eMedia compensating the SABC, despite the SABC having paid SuperSport for the broadcasting rights.

“This may appear to be a minor and obscure issue to the general public, but it is critically important to the Springboks and the future of rugby in South Africa, affecting not just the broadcasters but the sport itself,” said Mr Alexander.

“If this six-month order is extended, it would severely undermine the financial model that has enabled us to produce consecutive Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok teams.”

Mr Alexander stressed that an agreement had been reached between SuperSport and the SABC to broadcast the highly anticipated Castle Lager Incoming Series against Ireland.

“To be clear, this is not a conflict between SuperSport and the SABC – they had a contract in place to broadcast the matches based on appropriate commercial terms,” he said.

“It was the intervention of eMedia and its demand that OVHD be permitted to broadcast the rugby without any financial contribution by eMedia that put an end to this agreement.

“eMedia’s attempts to put an end to exclusivity in sports broadcasting rights would slash the rights fees, with the sport itself suffering the most, severely impacting our programme delivery from the grassroots level to the back-to-back Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks.”

Mr Alexander explained that SARU was not invited to participate in the proceedings that led to the Tribunal’s order, despite its significant impact on SARU’s sustainability.

“eMedia is a well-funded private company that pays to create television content and purchases content from filmmakers and other broadcasters. It is absurd that they should be allowed to broadcast sport without contributing to its support and development.”

Mr Alexander said SARU was seeking legal advice regarding the Tribunal’s order.

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