ICASA Calls For Major Sporting Events To Be Free-To-Air In South Africa

25 March 2020


South Africa’s Department of Communications and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) have revealed that they want a number major sporting events to be broadcast on free-to-air as they are in the ‘public interest’.

Presenting to parliament last week, ICASA said that events like the Olympic games as well as rugby, soccer, netball and cricket world cup tournaments should be shown on free-to-air channels such as SABC and eTV.

The move has been backed by the Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who added that sports have a significant role to play in South Africa’s social cohesion and reduction of inequality.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said that regulations were being introduced to help with the balancing act and ensure that ordinary South Africans are also being served.

She added that pay-subscribers would not be disadvantaged by these regulations and that businesses would still be allowed to make money and grow.

In response to the proposed plan, the Democratic Alliance’s Phumzile van Damme said that the SABC simply did not have the funds to acquire international broadcasting rights.

Van Damme said it would be impossible for the SABC to send its own cameras and crews to international sporting events as they are highly regulated, and the broadcast rights are expensive and sold as part of global bidding.

She added that the international bodies were highly unlikely to give the SABC preferential rates on broadcasting rights, while ICASA could not prevent companies such as SuperSport from bidding for those rights.

Van Damme said that the government should instead find ‘middle-ground’ as was done with the Rugby World Cup final which was broadcast on the SABC.

Source: Business Tech