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African Union of Broadcasting issues CAF rights fees warning

The African Union of Broadcasting, the body of free-to-air broadcasters, has called for a drop in the rights fees paid by African public broadcasters for major football tournaments held in the continent.

The AUB outlined its position following meetings in Douala, Cameroon with the general directors of public broadcasters.

AUB member broadcasters’ bids for rights to both the 2020 African Nations Championships and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations could be affected by the stance. Both tournaments will be held in Cameroon with the 2021 Afcon having recently been rescheduled to take place in January and February.

Grégoire Djaka, the AUB director general, said that the cost of the broadcast rights “is very high and represents a third of the broadcasters’ budget in some countries”.

Quoted by the Actu Cameroun website, Djaka said that he hopes to “use everything we have in our culture to make these costs accessible to everyone”. He invited the public broadcasters to “address their difficulties in order to take good decisions and improve what has happened until now”.

No guidance has been offered by the AUB in terms of how much it is proposing to reduce its rights costs (or bids) by.

Broadcast rights to the two tournaments have been sold by Lagardère Sports but the Confederation of African Football recently informed the agency of its decision to terminate the $1bn (€903m) agreement, which was due to run from 2017 to 2028.

At the end of last year, the AUB and CRTV, the public broadcaster in Cameroon, ended a dispute over outstanding rights fee payments.

The resolution followed a stand-off over rights fee costs to Fifa competitions and qualifying matches for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

The two parties said in December that they have come to an agreement for CRTV to “do everything possible” to ensure a $160,000 payment is made for rights to Fifa-sanctioned events in 2016. The payment is to be made “without undue delay”.

With regards to an outstanding rights fee for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches, CRTV has vowed to “once again refer the matter to the public treasury [in Cameroon] for the execution of the payment order”.