10 January 2013

Nigeria/South Africa: South Africa 2013 TV Blackout Looms for Nigeria

Photo: Chris Kirchhoff/MCSA
Soccer fans at the 2012 world cup.

The Africa Cup of Nations might not be broadcast on Nigerian airwaves after the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) admitted a deadlock in its efforts to acquire the TV rights for the Nigerian territory.

The tournament, which it the biggest football event in the continent, will kick off in South Africa on January 19.

The Chairman of BON, who also doubles as the Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Abubakar Jijiwa, at a media parley Wednesday said that the asking price of Euro 8 million (about N16.3 billion) for the Nigerian territory and threat of legal action in any event of a breach was causing the broadcasting body a huge distress.

He said that BON decided to take its cries to government after the take it or leave offer of $300,000 (about N48m) for selected matches involving Nigeria was rejected outright by LC2, one of the agencies claiming the rights.

The offer included the opening, quarter, semi and final matches.

LC2 is another company which wrote BON informing it that it owed the rights for the tournament. It asked BON which is the broadcast coalition of electronic media in Nigeria to pay the sum of Euro 8 before the matches of Africa Cup of Nations cam be broadcast to more than 80 million Nigerians

The firm had through it lawyers said it would institute a legal action against BON if there was a breach.

Jijiwa said several companies had been sending correspondence to BON to indicate they were the legitimate owners of the rights to the Nigerian territory.

He said that BON initially made an offer of $1.2 million (about N1.9billion) to JCM African Sports Consulting after a mail originated by a representative of the firm, Jean Claude Meyer, claimed it was in possession of the rights.

But the offer was rejected by African Sports Consulting, in December last year. The firm instead wanted $1.5m (about N2.4billion).

Following the turn of events, another firm, LC2 later wrote BON by slamming Euro 8 million on the rights after it claimed it had the rights for the Africa Cup of Nations 2013.

Jijiwa told reporters that $300,000 was the least the media owners in Nigeria could afford as the poor standard of football in Nigeria would adversely affect advert revenue.

He said that media broadcaster would not make profit at the cost being demanded by the agency as the Nigerian multinational companies have been forced to scale their advert spending because the economic down turn.

He described the rights fee imposed on Nigeria as unrealistic as a wrong impression that football is a goldmine in the country had been created.

"The fee they are asking for is not realistic as we don't have a buoyant professional league and our national team is not doing well internationally. This situation will affect advert revenue as no one can make profit and break even at Euro 8 million. There is a cartel in sports and we should not allow them to control us. If they want to protect their rights, let them approach the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to set up their stations," Jijiwas said.

He also faulted that the decision by CAF to brand the tournament as Orange Africa Cup of Nations , which he said had technically narrowed the scope of participation of rival mobile telephony companies in Nigeria, such as Globacom, MTN and Airtel, which are known for their high spending football driven promotional activities.

In the event of the log jam, BON had informed Sports Minister Bolaji Abdulahi, NBC and the Presidency of the looming situation, given consideration to the passion Nigerians have for football and the value the country attaches to the Africa Cup of Nations.

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