Broadcasting of National Sports Events: discussion

Sports, Arts and Culture

08 February 2000
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Meeting report


8 February 1999

The Department of Sport and Recreation drew the Committee's attention to the provisions of Clause 30(7) of the Broadcasting Act, 1999, dealing with the broadcasting of sporting events of national interest. This clearly states that the public must be able to access these sporting events on television. A series of discussions, starting with MNet and followed up with and SABC, have been put into motion to ensure this. The Independent Broadcasting Authority, the Minister, the sporting federations and this Committee will also be involved.

The Committee will tour Cuba in April and meet with its Sports Minister. Provincial committee tours will take place during this first quarter of the year. A decision was taken to contact the Ministry to facilitate arrangements for some committee members to attend the final match of the Africa Nations Cup in Nigeria should the South African football team qualify. The Committee pledged its support for the South African bid to host the 2006 Soccer World Cup.

Broadcasting of Sporting events
Mr G Abrahams from the Department stated that clause 30(7) of the Broadcasting Act, 1999 deals with broadcasting of sporting events of national interest and, it deals with the role of pay stations:

(7) Subscription broadcasting services may not acquire exclusive rights for the broadcast of national sporting events, as identified in the public interest from time to time by the Authority in consultation with the Minister and the Minister of Sport and in accordance with the regulations determined by the Authority through a public process.

He said the media has created some confusion with regard to the report that the Minister of Sport had said he would go to the Constitutional Court to enforce this clause. Rather he had said that if any party wished to challenge the clause, he would defend the matter.

Mr Abrahams pointed out that no agreement had ever been signed between MNet and the SABC resulting in the majority of the people being denied the opportunity to view interesting sporting events.

Mr Abrahams said events of national interest must be identified and a consensus, that includes the broadcasters, must be reached. It is not a question of looking at MNet only but also at the national broadcaster, the SABC, as it is important that such events not be relegated to SABC 3 which has a limited broadcasting coverage (footprint). The Department hopes that the broadcasters will reach a common understanding on how these events will be brought to the nation. He noted that already there is an intention of goodwill amongst the broadcasters.

Questions and Comments
Mr L Cleland (DP): You use the words "sporting events of national interest" while the Act talks of "national sporting events ". Can you please clarify why.
Mr G Abrahams: I do not see a substantive difference between the two. It may be a question of interpretation.

Mr P Swart (DP): What is in the Act is totally different from what the Department is saying, national sporting events is different from sporting events of national interest.
Mr G Abrahams: It may be a question of semantics, otherwise I see no difference.

Mr L Luyt (FA) commented that in 1995 the SABC had had an opportunity to buy exactly 50% of the broadcasting rights but they had refused. He said he was not there to defend M Net or but just wished to state that SABC cannot be left blameless.

Mr E Ferreira (IFP) emphasised that a major difference exists between national sporting events and sporting events of national interest.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) gave an example of a sporting event of national interest. He said when ordinary football clubs like Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates play, the extent of interest generated by the public qualifies them to be of national interest. He said that the same applies when Rugby Super 12 play.

Mr P Chauke (ANC) called upon the Committee to have a united approach which would be presented to a joint meeting of the stakeholders.

A Committee member noted that the SABC is automatically disqualified as it is not in a financial position to compete with M NET and even with for that matter.

The Chairperson concluded by stating that a rule on which route to follow cannot be taken by the Committee without engaging the broadcasters, federations and the public. She said the truth still remains that the majority of people are not able to view sports of national interest.

International Tours
Ms N Bhengu (Chairperson, ANC) announced that the Committee will be visiting Cuba to meet with the Sport Minister there. The President will also be visiting Cuba at more or less the same time. Plans to combine the two trips are underway.

Provincial Tours
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had previously agreed that visits would take place during the first quarter of the year. Kwa Zulu Natal and Eastern Cape provinces will be visited from 11 to 14 March and the Free State province on 18 March. Dates for visits to the North West and the Northern Cape provinces would be renegotiated with the provinces concerned.

Africa Nations Cup
Mr P Chauke (ANC) proposed that should the South African football team Bafana Bafana qualify for the finals of the Africa Nations Cup, the Committee should consider going to Nigeria to watch the game and render support to the team. Mr N Clelland (DP) opposed the idea and said the Committee should have a clear policy on attendance of such events. He further cited a limited budget as a constraining factor.

Mr P Chauke stressed that going to Nigeria would not only boost the morale of the team but would also serve as opportunity for the Committee to meet their foreign counterparts and discuss matters of common interest. He proposed that since the Minister of Sport has expressed a wish to go, his office must be contacted for joint arrangements. An ANC Committee member concurred and said the trip to Nigeria would serve a diplomatic purpose. She said it would open doors to lobby for support for South Africa's bid to host the 2006 Soccer World Cup bid. The Chairperson promised to contact the Department and then report to the Committee.

2006 Soccer World Cup Bid
The Chairperson reminded the members that the Committee had had a presentation on the 2006 Soccer World Cup bid but had not formally declared their support. She asked the members to declare their views on the bid.

Dr L Luyt (FA) said the bid must be supported by all means. He said this country is capable of hosting world sporting events. He reminded them that the Rugby World Cup hosted by South Africa had been the best ever in spite of all the reports that violence is rife in South Africa. The Committee expressed regret at the fact that Morocco is still continuing with their bid. However, realising that Morocco is not prepared to be persuaded otherwise, both African countries will regrettably continue to push their separate bids. The Committee unanimously declared its support for the bid.


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