ASA, SABC on verge of new TV deal

2015-01-25 15:00

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It’s not a matter of if but when Athletics SA (ASA) and the SABC will sign off on a new broadcast rights deal that will put athletics competitions back on TV.

ASA president Aleck Skhosana told City Press this week that all that was left was for the two parties to “find a date to sign [a new deal]”.

“There was a void last year when there was no track and field on TV. We are working on something good as we want to upgrade the contract from last year,” said Skhosana, who also hinted that ASA was attempting to woo back telephone directory firm Yellow Pages as a track and field sponsor.

The previous broadcast deal – a one-year agreement worth R8?million – between SABC and ASA expired last month.

Skhosana said previous infighting in ASA had affected the implementation of the broadcast agreement last year.

The conflict resulted in some of the major national track and field events, such as the SA Senior and Junior Championships, receiving little coverage on TV.

When asked about the SABC’s relationship with ASA, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the public broadcaster was “not at liberty to divulge our business relationships with third parties”.

Meanwhile, for the past two and a half years, hopes have been repeatedly raised in athletics about imminent sponsorship only to be dashed. The athletics fraternity grew exhausted during the sponsorship battle, which was exacerbated because of instability at the ASA office.

Now there is a sense of optimism in the current athletics administration.

“We are talking to Yellow Pages as we also have to come up with innovations for the new TV package,” said Skhosana.

The lengthy partnership between Yellow Pages and ASA ended three years ago.

The deal was worth R20?million, but the endless squabbles among the previous ASA leadership blighted any chances for negotiating a renewal.

Since the lucrative track and field series folded, there has been little on offer for local athletes to compete in, apart from the Varsity Athletics series and a few provincial and national events.

This year being the year of the IAAF World Championships, Skhosana said ASA was hoping to build on the success of last year, when the local track and field athletes pulled off the best performances since South Africa’s readmission to international competition.

The global track and field meeting will be held in Beijing, China, from August 22 to 30.

.?Meanwhile, the Legends Marathon organisers said that they have paid athletes who won prize money in the 21km race last year, and the only athletes who had not received their money were the ones who had supplied incorrect banking details.

Vukile Pokwana from the race office said: “We went out of our way to pay athletes even before the doping results were received. We made payments between December 13 and 15.”

Pokwana acknowledged that Lusapho April’s prize money was paid into his manager Karen Zimmerman’s account as per details that appeared in his application form.

“The people who were paid had submitted correct banking details and the other 14 people could not be paid due to either dormant bank accounts, wrong account details or incorrect branch codes.”

Xolisa Tyali, who finished as runner-up to April in the half marathon on October 5, was only paid this week.

It has also emerged that the East London half marathon event almost paid out prize money to an athlete whose dope test had returned positive.

The organisers could not reveal the identity of the athlete until the suspected dope cheat had appeared before the tribunal.

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