10 February 2013

Nigeria: Afcon Broadcast Right - NTA Loss Is Gain to Commercial Viewing Centres

"You know Nigerian football fans are fantastic. They pay whatever you ask them to pay to watch their clubs play. You can imagine what happened when I increased the money for them to watch the African Cup of Nations. Yes, I will say the money came in for me during the tournament. The impressive performance of the Super Eagles even brought in more but I won't tell you how much"

These are the words of one of the operators of the viewing centres at Nyanyan area of FCT, Abuja, Mr. Philip Alozie who admitted that the impressive performance of the Nigerian team at the tournament resulted in boom for him because of the unusual numbers of football loving fans who trooped into his place to watch the AFCON matches.

Millions of Nigerians were denied the opportunity to watch the matches within the comfort of their homes because NTA and other local TV stations could not run live coverage of the tournament over the refusal of the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria [BON] to pay the 6 million Euros demanded by Confederation of African Football [CAF] as broadcasting right fee.

Alozie told our reporter that an hour before the commencement of the matches, especially on the days the Super Eagles played, his centre would have been filled beyond the required numbers of people it could take. "You can come and see for yourself on the days of the finals of the tournament. If you are not here an hour earlier, you won't be able to come close to the entrance of this place." He boasted

Sunday Trust observed that the owners of the public viewing centres recorded unusual patronage during the AFCON tournament, particularly on the days of the Super Eagles matches.

Mr. Edmund Alade, another viewing centre owner at Utako in Abuja also admitted that he has never got such a huge patronage for a long time. He told our reporter that initially he was charging the fees he normally charged for European League, but had to increase his fees when the patronage to watch the AFCON matches increased unusually after Nigeria defeated the Elephant of Ivory Coast in the semi final stage of the tournament.

He said "I recorded huge patronage here on each day of the tournament especially during the days of the Eagles matches. Nigerians were enthusiastic that the Super Eagles won against Ivory Coast. After that match, I had to increase the entry fee from N100 to N150 per head.

As you can see, this place is big. It can take up to 100 people conveniently but because I had more people coming during AFCON matches, we had to rearrange it to take 130 people. These seats were usually paid for before the matches commenced.

A football fan, Mr. Dauda Abdullahi, who spoke to our reporter said the viewing centre operators at the end of the tournament should be counting their blessings. "32 matches were played, in the tournament and many of them charged between N100 and N150, that was a huge profit for them in view of the large numbers of people who watched these matches in these viewing centres"

Nigeria was blacked out from the AFCON as a result of disagreement between the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and LC2, the agency that was responsible for marketing the television rights to member nations in Africa.

BON had described the demand by LC2 of $6m for the right to broadcast AFCON 2013 "outrageous", It argued that those in charge of the AFCON broadcast rights had become so arrogant that they had "taken football away from the people."

However, it negotiated to pay $1.5 million for the television rights but LC2 initially asked for eight million Euros which it later cut down to 4.5 million Euros. But BON refused to pay and Nigerian fans were unable to watch the Super Eagles on terrestrial television especially the NTA.

CAF Secretary General, Hicham El Amrani, in his reaction to BON stand said "Nigeria will go and purchase an English package or European football package at the right price but they want to purchase our package free or at a ridiculous price. We cannot go ahead with that, there is a minimum balance we have to maintain."

The disagreement and refusal of BON to pay the requested sum of money to the consulting firm of CAF restricted the broadcast of the tournament to the Digital Satellite Television[DSTv].

A Football fan in Port Harcourt, Mr Inime Alasia, has expressed disappointment over the failure of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) to secure broadcasting right for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in South Africa.

He described it as embarrassing and shameful to soccer loving Nigerians who were desperate to watch live matches of the continental game, particularly Super Eagles but were denied.

The soccer enthusiast argued that the controversy between BON and organisers of the AFCON in South Africa over broadcasting right was unacceptable to the teeming soccer loving Nigerians.

According to him, "Nigerians deserve to sit in the comfort of their bedrooms, sitting rooms and drinking places to watch live matches of the continental games from the local television channels adding that the claim by management of BON that the amount demanded by organisers of AFCON was outrageous was not enough to deny Nigerians the opportunity to watch the matches live especially Super Eagles.

However, a football fan, Nurudeen Kabir at one of the viewing centres in Karu area of Nasarawa was of the view that what was seen as a loss to the local TV stations particularly the NTA was after all gains for the viewing centres.

He said " They became the immediate alternatives for many Nigerians as CAF closed its door against Nigeria over the disagreement on the broadcasting rights fee. It was after all huge blessings for the viewing centres across the country. I think What NTA lost was a gain to them "

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