The Comrades Marathon, South Africa’s premier athletics event, is at risk of not being on TV, according to a report by the City Press.
The report comes after the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, another prominent race, was not broadcast on TV this weekend. The race was not shown on TV, as is normally done by the SABC, as the public broadcaster “had no deal with Athletics SA”.
An SABC spokesperson told the City Press that there was “no agreement between us and ASA to broadcast the race”, following failed negotiations between the two parties.
Athletics SA confirmed this through acting president James Moloi. Moloi stated that he could not provide further information on the matter, however, as he has only been acting president for a week.
With the lack of deal between the SABC and Athletics SA, there is now concern that the Comrades will not be shown on TV – especially considering it is set to take place on 9 June 2019.
The City Press reported that the SABC said it will “communicate directly to its audiences should it broadcast a particular event”, when asked if the Comrades will be on TV.
Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) GM Keletso Totlhanyo has remained positive about the matter, however, and said that broadcast plans for the race are being made.
“CMA has sent a request to ASA for permission to engage with the public broadcaster while the SABC/ASA negotiations [for a long- term broadcast agreement] are still going on,” said Totlhanyo.
The CMA is now hoping to meet with the SABC “in the coming week” to discuss broadcasting the Comrades.
SABC in trouble
The SABC has made headlines in recent years due to the poor financial state it is in and the endemic corruption at the organisation.
Only last week SABC chief operating officer Chris Maroleng was found guilty of gross negligence and breaching fiduciary duty.
This followed the SABC admitting it owed South African musicians over R248 million in royalties. The DA also stated in March that the SABC is reportedly unable to pay salaries to its own employees.
The poor financial management and corruption at the SABC has resulted in massive losses at the company, and it requires government bailouts to survive.
In March, Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that the government would bail out the SABC – which would cost the country several billion.
Prior to the statement by the minister, the SABC said it needed R6.8 billion to stay afloat.