Zimbabwe: ZBC Botches World Cup Deal

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The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation embarrassingly botched a $1.5 billion deal for the screening of the ICC Cricket World Cup in West Indies after failing to pay a paltry figure for signal reception.

At first the perennially penniless state broadcaster could not afford the rights to screen the action from the Caribbean until Zimbabwe Cricket came to the rescue by securing a deal through Octagon SA with the South African Broadcasting Company (SABC). Then ZBC on its part only had to locate the signal, but the broadcaster failed to secure the services of a local satellite engineer who, sources said, had asked for about $1 million -- only enough to buy 50 litres of petrol. As a result of the trivial dispute, most Zimbabweans have experienced a blackout of the action in the Caribbean which started on March 13 and ends on April 28.

Only a lucky few have been able to watch the World Cup on DStv's Supersport or on free-to-air satellite channels. The Super Eights stage of the World Cup is currently underway. "We had put together a package for ZBC-TV to screen the World Cup matches, but we understand they had local technical difficulties accessing the signal from SABC," Zimbabwe Cricket spokesman Lovemore Banda said, without elaborating on the technical problems.

The coverage blackout has not only deprived cricket enthusiasts of the action from West Indies but also denied the state broadcaster an opportunity to rake in much-needed revenue. ZBC-TV has resorted to bringing highlights of the World Cup "poached" from foreign broadcasters during its main news bulletin at 8pm. It could not be established if Zimbabwe Cricket would try to recover its money or negotiate for the remainder of the World Cup action to be screened on ZBC-TV.

The Independent