Rwanda: Inside the Contractual Dispute Between RBA and Ferwafa

The broadcasting contract signed between local football governing body (Ferwafa) and Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) is said to have caused disputes among both parties.

In November 2020, the broadcaster reached an agreement with Ferwafa to broadcast live league matches and other competitions organised by the federation for a period of three seasons.

According to the contract, RBA agreed to give exclusive coverage for 90 matches per season over the course of three seasons. That means that the broadcaster is supposed to broadcast three league fixtures per match day.

RBA in return was guaranteed to take 10 percent of the Rwf 640 million that Bralirwa gives the federation which equals to Rwf 64 million a season.

The matches are currently broadcast on RBA's sports TV channel, Magic Sports TV which airs on Star Times, becoming the broadcaster's third TV channel besides Rwanda Television and Kigali Channel 2 (KC2).

Magic Sports TV came as a result of a three-year agreement contract signed between RBA and Star Times in which the latter agreed to pay Rwf 190 million for airing the matches that RBA secured rights for.

However, the agreement between the two parties is reported to have caused disputes between RBA and Ferwafa because the latter claimed that it should be taking a 50 percent share of the money that Star Times gave the broadcaster, which is equal to Rwf 95 million per season.

The federation, in a letter they wrote to RBA on January 24 this year, referred an article in the existing partnership agreement in relation to rights given to RBA which states, "rights to sub-license any or all of the broadcasting rights granted hereunder upon the consent of Ferwafa in this case the revenue sharing model in this agreement will prevail."

Responding to the claims, RBA Director General Arthur Assiimwe told local sport radio B&B FM Umwezi that the fees they get from Star Times are only used in logistics of airing the matches.

"The money we get from Star Times are just production fees. If we had not had this money, the matches would not have been broadcast," Assiimwe said, insisting that Ferwafa was contacted and informed about the broadcaster's idea to establish a special sports TV channel via which the matches would be broadcast," he said.

He said a new channel, which is exclusively for sports, was created after RBA's administration realized that it could not get enough space to broadcast the matches on RTV alongside other programmes.

"At RBA, we broadcast a lot of content varying from education, agriculture, health, entertainment and, particularly a lot of Sports content which attracts a really big audience," he explained.

Asiimwe said the money that Star Times Rwanda provides is not even enough to help the broadcaster in the production of the matches forcing the broadcaster to spend extra more on the production of the matches and that there hasn't been any returns yet.

"If broadcasting one match from Rusizi cost us over Rwf 15 million, you can imagine how much we spend on 90 matches that we are supposed to broadcast in a season. We are facing huge losses from this agreement and I don't have any appetite motivating us to renew the contract to keep the broadcasting rights of local football matches," he said.

So far RBA has received 5 percent of the Rwf 190 million that they are supposed to get from Star Times.

He said that reports claiming that RBA has breached any clause in the partnership agreement between the broadcaster and Ferwafa are false because," it is normal that a partner writes to another looking for clarifications and whenever Ferwafa wrote to us, we responded."

"We also wrote to them [Ferwafa] asking them the money agreed on naming rights but they have not responded to us. These are normal things that exist between parties involved in a given agreement," he added.

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