Milenkovic, Mbalula to meet over boxing’s TV blackout

2015-03-29 15:00

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Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula will meet boxing promoter Branco Milenkovic next month to negotiate an out-of-court settlement on broadcasting rights.

A breakthrough at this meeting could put an end to the protracted television boxing blackout and lead to the SABC screening live broadcasts of the sport.

The blackout started in 2012 after Boxing SA (BSA) claimed ownership of broadcast rights.

This was after it instructed the SABC not to negotiate directly with promoters.

The decision unsettled Milenkovic, who began litigation on the grounds that BSA’s actions were “unlawful and unconstitutional” – a matter he won.

Mbalula this week told City Press boxing tournaments would have been covered by the public broadcaster if Milenkovic had no issues with the broadcasting rights.

“Broadcasting rights involve a lot of money,” said Mbalula.

“The fact of the matter is that we are locked in the courts. I’m looking for an out-of-court settlement, which will do us justice in terms of what we want to achieve.

“But I’m not going to settle for second best. This is a legal issue.”

The tough-talking minister appealed for patience on the matter.

“At one point, I thought this matter was going to be resolved among us as the department, Branco and the SABC, but it was not the case. We are back to square one,” he added.

“It pains me not to see professional boxing on the SABC.”

Mbalula is optimistic that his meeting with Milenkovic will break the deadlock that has seen local world champions, such as Moruti “Babyface” Mthalane, being forced to defend their titles outside the country.

Milenkovic said the issue could have been resolved long ago.

“I can’t wait for the meeting with the minister,” he said.

“This issue could have been sorted out long ago if there was no arrogance and ignorance from BSA.

“It’s a pity the boxing body does not allow promoters to negotiate directly with the public broadcaster regarding tournaments,” he said.

However, he said: “With pay channel SuperSport, they [promoters] do as they please.

“As a national controlling body, BSA cannot apply double standards.”

BSA chairperson Ntambi Ravele said: “We will welcome any solution to bring boxing back on air.”

SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said: “We are doing our best to bring boxing back on air.

“Our sports team is working on the marketing and communications strategy to bring back boxing.”

Motsoeneng said the issue between Milenkovic and the SABC would be decided in court.

South Africa’s boxing fraternity is likely to be waiting in anticipation for the outcome of the meeting between the sports minister and Milenkovic.

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