SABC fights for right to broadcast Rugby World Cup

The SABC is still locked in last minute negotiations with pay-channel SuperSport to acquire the rights to broadcast the much-anticipated 2023 Rugby World Cup, which starts on Friday.

As things stand, and according to well-placed insiders, it looks like the cash-strapped public broadcaster, and Supersport, are not reaching common ground, which could see millions of rugby followers in the country miss out on watching the Springboks defend the Webb Ellis trophy they won in Japan in 2019.

Information coming from Auckland Park, the SABC headquarters, is that by yesterday talks had broken down.

The public broadcaster is hoping Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation Zizi Kodwa might intervene in the matter.

They are hoping the minister may use his influence to rescue the situation, which will surely result in a huge public outcry if not resolved. SuperSport has the exclusive broadcast rights and the SABC is hoping for a sub-licence, which means it has to agree to the required amount demanded by the rights holders.

Approached for comment, SuperSport spokesperson Clinton van der Berg would not be drawn on the matter and referred all enquiries to the SABC.

This breakdown in negotiations comes at a time when the SABC could not broadcast the cricket T20 and One Day International (ODI) series between the Proteas and Australia that started on Wednesday. The deadlock resulted in a blackout of the series, leaving cricket followers seething with anger.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) released a statement on Tuesday explaining they could not reach an agreement with the public broadcaster to broadcast Australia’s three T20I series and five ODIs matches in the country.

“While CSA is disappointed at the prospect of many South Africans missing out on coverage of the thrill of the much-awaited Australia series, it reaffirms its commitment to making cricket accessible to all South Africans. Consequently, CSA will continue to engage with the SABC to find common ground on the broadcasting of cricket content,” reads part of the statement.

SABC Sport general manager Keletso Totlhanyo referred enquiries to the SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo.

The tournament will kick off on Friday, when hosts France tackle New Zealand.

South Africa will play their first match on Sunday against Scotland, one of the most exciting matches.

Seapolelo said they would only comment after their negotiations with Multichoice.

“The SABC is in the final stages of the negotiation process with MultiChoice and once the negotiations are concluded we will communicate accordingly, “ she said.

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