Comrades in potential TV blackout

2019-04-24 15:41

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With 45 days left before the much-anticipated Comrades Marathon, there is still no guarantee that the popular race will be televised live, the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has confirmed.

After the cash-strapped SABC failed to televise the Two Oceans Marathon at the weekend, there emerged fears that national broadcaster may not broadcast one of the country’s prestigious events, the Comrades Marathon.

It appeared that there was no agreement between Athletics South Africa and SABC to televise the race.

The SABC’s failure to broadcast the Two Oceans denied local people a chance to see the Midlands runner and three-times Comrades Marathon champion Bongmusa Mthe-mbu winning the race in Cape Town on Saturday. The Bulwer-born athlete, who is busy with preparations to defend his Comrades Marathon title for the third time on the trot, finished the race with an impressive time of 3:08:40.

CMA general manager Keletso Totlhanyo admitted on Tuesday that there is no deal at the moment between the parties, but said she is hopeful an agreement will be reached soon.

This year’s event is scheduled for June 9 and will start in Durban and finish in Pietermaritzburg.

Totlhanyo revealed that SABC and ASA will meet on Wednesday with the aim of finding a solution to the problem, but also said the good thing is that “now we have been given permission to negotiate directly with the public broadcaster”.

“We are aware that people are worried, we are also worried as the CMA and I’m sure the SABC is worried, but we are doing everything in our power to make sure Comrades is on TV,” she said. “Though we don’t know what seems to be the problem, we understand that the SABC is challenged financially.”

For some time now the SABC has experienced a serious financial crisis which has seen them failing to show some important Bafana Bafana games as they couldn’t afford to pay for broadcasting rights from the SA Football Association.

Last month it was reported that Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams announced that the National Treasury had agreed to provide the SABC with interim financial relief to prevent the broadcaster from collapsing by the end of March. In January, the public broadcaster failed to pay its employees’ salaries on time, while late last year the SABC announced its plan to retrench 981 permanent staff and 1 200 freelancers. According to reports the SABC needs at least R6,8 billion to keep afloat.

Attempts to get comment from the SABC were unsuccessful.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  comrades marathon

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