South Africa: Icasa's Demand That Sport Be Broadcast Free to Air Is Flawed and Futile


In the South African landscape, pay TV channel SuperSport, a subsidiary of MultiChoice, has been the equivalent of BSkyB. There is no doubt that SuperSport has a monopoly on sports broadcasting in South Africa, just as there is no doubt that SuperSport has delivered billions of rands to sporting bodies in return.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

In the early 1990s, newly formed British television company BSkyB needed a way to stem its growing losses. It considered several options, including broadcasting pornography as a way of boosting income.

But, after a short period of research, it kept coming back to one offering that it believed would save the company and swell its coffers - broadcasting live sport. In BSkyB's case, the sport it targeted was football and, to cut a long story short, it found willing partners in England's established clubs. But BSkyB had to spend money to make money.

After years of pitiful income from public broadcaster the BBC, English clubs recognised they held significant value that the public broadcaster simply wasn't offering. Enter BSkyB and ITV. Both companies wanted to buy the rights to the first division, as it was known then, offering the...

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