State backs BSA in boxing blackout furore

2013-03-03 10:00

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The government this week came to the defence of Boxing SA (BSA) in relation to its pending SABC broadcast rights court battle with promoter Branco Milenkovic.

According to Paena Galane, spokesperson for the department of sport and recreation, the view of the ministry and the boxing controlling body was that “we cannot be held to ransom by anybody regarding who we enter into agreements with regarding professional boxing”.

Galane said: “The SA Boxing Act also stipulates that the BSA can enter into an agreement with anybody or organisation for the performance of any function that the BSA deems necessary for the proper regulation of professional boxing in the country as long as that person or body is independent of the BSA.”

He said the department supports “mooted trilateral agreements between SuperSport, the SABC and the BSA on broadcasting rights that will result in millions of boxing fans watching their favourite sport on their television and listening to boxing broadcasts on their radios.”

Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula is listed as the third respondent in the matter, with the BSA being the first and the SABC the second.

All involved have filed the necessary documents and are awaiting an appearance date to go pound for pound in the South Gauteng High Court in a dispute that has been on hold for more than three months.

According to Galane, the BSA has done all that needs to be done to ensure that the broadcasting of boxing is happening in this country.

The two parties maintain that the ball is in the public broadcaster’s court, which they say will have to account for the continuous TV blackout.

The legal representative of the BSA and Mbalula in the matter, Advocate Modise Khoza, has apparently assured his clients that “Branco’s application is premature, since there’s no signed agreement as yet between the BSA and the SABC”.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is an application and not a court order. Only a court order can stop the process towards the signing of the agreement.”

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago fired back, saying: “The reason for this (boxing blackout) is that we are waiting for the outcome of the court case against the BSA to be finalised.”

He added that it was within the broadcaster’s right to hold a different legal view from that of the department and the BSA.

With the respondents clearly reading from different pages, it remains unclear whether or not boxing will be seen on SABC TV soon.

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