ANC wants to ban DStv’s exclusive sports broadcasting rights

The ANC has compiled a new policy document which calls for an end to exclusive broadcasting rights on national sports events, reports Sunday Times.

This is according to the documents released for public discussion before the ruling party’s policy conference in July.

If enacted, the policy would prevent national sporting bodies for the Springboks, Proteas, and Bafana Bafana from selling broadcasting rights on an exclusive basis.

Instead, the ANC wants the SABC to have the ability to broadcast all these teams’ games live, which it cannot currently do.

ANC communications subcommittee head Nkenke Kekana told Sunday Times the SABC had a constitutional mandate to carry matches involving national teams to the general public.

“As the ANC we are saying, let’s have a discussion to ensure that especially sports of national interests are watched by all South Africans,” Kekana said.

“So where you have competing rights and interests, we encourage dialogue. It cannot be that the size of the purse determines the rights of the people.”

Nkenke Kekana, ANC head of communications subcommittee

With much deeper pockets than the SABC, eMedia, and other broadcasters, MultiChoice can often pay for exclusive access to high-profile rugby, cricket, golf, tennis, or other sporting events.

SuperSport’s exclusive access to many of these matches is one of the biggest selling points of DStv’s Premium package.

The sale of exclusive broadcasting rights is also a major source of revenue for national sporting bodies.

They have previously warned that undermining exclusive broadcasting rights could impact player salaries and investments into developing their respective sports.

The ANC’s document does not give details on how its alternative funding model would work, except to state that the fiscus should support the SABC.

“The benefits of having a public broadcaster far outweigh the funding required to deliver public service content. SA’s current broadcasting system requires a different form of funding.”

That would imply it wants more tax to go towards the public broadcaster.

The SABC, MultiChoice, and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse have advocated for abolishing South Africa’s TV licence regime and replacing it with a general household media levy.

Proposed legislation

The ANC’s policy document is not the first to propose changes to the sports broadcasting rights framework.

In 2020, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) published a second draft of its Sports Broadcasting Services Amendment Regulations.

A key component of the proposed regulations was a list of sports tournaments that must be free to watch in the public interest.

Icasa argued that research showed only 12.6% of South Africa’s TV viewership used subscription-based broadcasting services.

The table below shows all of the sports which would be available for broadcast “live, delayed-live, or delayed” by free-to-air broadcasting licensees should Icasa’s regulations come into effect.

However, Icasa announced it would relaunch consultations for its inquiry into the Subscription Broadcasting Services Market earlier this month.

The regulator said any market interventions should consider current policy developments and recent technological and market trends, including the entry of services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.

List of sports events that must be free to watch
Summer Olympic Games Paralympics
Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Women’s World Cup
Africa Cup of Nations Rugby World Cup
International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 Cricket World Championships
Netball World Cup Commonwealth Games
International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Athletics Championships Super Rugby
All Africa Games Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup
Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League Confederation of African Football (CAF) Confederations Cup
MTN 8 Telkom Knockout
Nedbank Cup Currie Cup
The Association For International Sport for All (TAFISA) World Sport for All Games

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ANC wants to ban DStv’s exclusive sports broadcasting rights