SABC strikes scaled-down cricket deal as dispute continues

South African public-service broadcaster the SABC has acquired live domestic rights for the forthcoming One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 cricket matches between South Africa and New Zealand, but will only provide scaled-down coverage of the following Test series between the two national teams.

Under the deal with Cricket South Africa, the sport’s national governing body, the SABC will show all three ODIs and all three Twenty20 matches live, with the series starting tomorrow (Friday).

However, during the two-Test series that will follow the six limited-over matches, the broadcaster will only show a two-hour programme comprising live action and highlights in the afternoons, as well as highlights in the evenings.

The governing body and the SABC have been unable to reach a deal for full live coverage even though the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, the country’s media authority, reserves South Africa’s home national team cricket matches for free-to-air television. The SABC has shown all of the team’s home series since 1992.

The Business Day newspaper said that Cricket South Africa will generate about R11 million (€980,000/$1.27 million) from the series – less than one-third of the anticipated income of R30 million. The income includes R3 million from the SABC and R8 million from advertising.

“We are disappointed that the Tests will receive limited coverage and, although we are committed to the free-to-air broadcaster as part of our development mandate, we took a substantial cut in our broadcast rights fee to ensure we can take cricket to the South African public,” Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Jacques Faul told the newspaper.

Sizwe Nzimande, head of sport at the SABC, added: “The decision to broadcast these matches is a clear indication that we take our mandate seriously and we are cognisant that the public of South Africa deserve to see their cricket team – which is rated number one in the world in Test cricket and also highly in the other formats of the game.”