POLITICAL NEWS - Chris Maroleng, the chief operating officer of the SABC, yesterday refused to confirm whether the organisation had paid anything for the much-touted acquisition of the broadcast rights for Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) new Twenty20 league, to be launched in November.
Speculation was rife that CSA have granted the SABC exclusive rights for little to no payment, hoping instead to recoup losses on a profit-sharing basis from revenue generated by advertising and sponsorships.
The broadcaster certainly cannot afford the rights, for which SuperSport were willing to pay $5 million (R71 million) last year, because they are massively indebted and retrenchments hang thick in the air around Auckland Park.
When asked for a simple “yes or no” as to whether the SABC had paid for the rights or not, Maroleng would only say: “This is a partnership between CSA and the SABC which is commercially viable and it does not expose us to any commercial risk.
“I can allay any concerns of recklessness on behalf of the SABC because ultimately this will benefit both us and CSA, it is not irresponsible at all.
“We are not in a position to disclose the details, but we are in a partnership and we thank CSA for their generosity.
“Our financial position is no secret and we presented to parliament’s portfolio committee our finances and our turnaround plans, and this partnership is a crucial part of that.
“This is an opportunity to derive commercial value from our sports rights and CSA are an open and willing partner in the cause of the development of the game,” Maroleng said at CSA headquarters in Johannesburg.
CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe admitted that a R40 million operating loss had been budgeted for the first year of the new T20 league.
Given the cost involved in televising all 32 games of the round-robin phase live (it costs more than R1 million per match) it stands to reason that paying for the broadcast would be the largest part of this shortfall.
“It shows how prudent we have to be, but if we can reach break-even we will be very happy, that is our goal. Plus there will be a draft to select players for the six teams.
“No T20 tournament has ever made money in its first year, not even the IPL.
“Our current T20 domestic competition makes no profit for CSA but nobody has asked us to postpone that.
“But we have a couple of sponsors lined up, hopefully we can announce them soon. CSA will own all the teams and the stadiums that will host them will be announced soon,” Moroe said.