Shame on SABC for not broadcasting home Test cricket series

2012-12-21 00:00

SABC? Shem kodwa!

I’m not one to criticise broadcasters, but taking Test cricket, home Test cricket, away from viewers … I’m simply lost for words.

I gave up on the South African Broadcasting Corporation in 1997 when it relinquished the rights to show Currie Cup matches.

I am a cricket fan by nature and a sportswriter by trade, and I come from a town that had a floundering Currie Cup side and didn’t have a Premier Soccer League team until 2003. The SABC gave me my first taste of Currie Cup rugby and Test cricket.

I watched the 1995 Currie Cup final thriller in the quagmire that was King’s Park before I had even visited Basil Kenyon Stadium and Buffalo Park Cricket Ground.

For the record, they now call the rugby ground the Buffalo City Municipality Stadium. If only its tenants, the Border Bulldogs, played like buffaloes defending themselves from a pride of lions instead of the puppies they seem to be … Anyway, this column is not about them.

Being an Eastern Cape man, I come from a rich cricket and rugby background and can say I’ve witnessed a spicy township rugby derby take precedence over the Soweto derby.

I have no disdain for football and the power it has in bringing people together and tearing families apart. It deserves to be a priority for any viewer.

After the SABC relinquished the rights to SuperSport five years ago, they lost the rights to call the game their priority and it is thanks to the benevolence of the pay channel that the majority of South Africa’s football lovers get scraps of the game, while SuperSport gets the lion’s share.

Any marketer in his right mind would give his product to the company that respects his product and gives it maximum exposure. None of that delayed live rubbish and fuzzy camera angles that strain eyes.

That the SABC will not screen Test matches should not come as a surprise though, as SuperSport has had a firm grip on that tender.

They still gave the public broadcaster a slice, especially in terms of the graphics and the expensive Decision Review System, a bill footed by broadcasters and not by the International Cricket Council.

As a taxpayer, I baulk at the amount of money going into the building of the Nkandla palace, spearheaded by Emperor Jake.

But R10 million to watch Test is something the public do not mind parting with. Cricket South Africa have not been saints themselves, but they were prepared to lick the boot, and man, has it kicked them!

For the SABC to plead broke amid the maelstrom of mismanagement and rudderless and politicised leadership is indicative of how low the broadcaster has sunk.

It is worth noting that they came very close to losing the right to broadcast Bafana Bafana matches, and the rank and file would not have been able to do anything about it because the leaders at Faulty Towers hardly watch their own product.

If the need arises, the comfort of a VIP suite or the leather couch with the luxury of zapping through the pay channels will do.

Only a small minority can afford DStv and cricket is on channels that are not available on the cut-price bouquets. The monthly subscription of the full bouquet would cost a lot more for a struggling family.

People in the Karoo, rural Eastern Cape, Free State and Cape winelands cannot afford to make the journey to watch Test cricket live.

A diet of tiddly T20 and ODI matches is like feeding farm workers papsak on a late harvest.

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