Zimbabwe football fans might fail to see the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals live on national television if the Confederation of African Football (Caf) rights holder, SportFive persists with their €600 000 demands.
African television broadcasters are united in demanding a downward review of the figure, arguing — and rightly so — that they paid $150 000 to screen the 2010 World Cup staged in South Africa.
So intense has been the pressure on SportFive — a company domiciled in Paris, France, that they have reduced their initial demands from than a million euros to the current figure.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) public relations manager Sivukile Simango confirmed that SportFive was demanding an exorbitant sum.
“It is true that SportFive is demanding a lot of money for the rights of Afcon 2012. If all countries in Africa pay SportFive that ridiculous amount some people will become very rich, but at whose expense? We paid $150 000 for the World Cup rights; why is an African tournament priced so exorbitantly?
“SportFive has revised the figure downwards to €600 000. However, we feel the amount is still too high.
“ How many broadcasters in Africa can afford this amount? We are still negotiating with them for a further reduction which we can afford.
“The final decision on whether we will be able to televise the matches will be arrived at once the negotiations with SportFive are concluded. ZBC is ready to broadcast the tournament.”
However, for those with access to satellite television, there will be no such headaches as cash-rich SuperSport will broadcast both the Afcon and Euro 2012.
“The World of Champions” will broadcast all 32 Afcon matches live and in high definition (HD), while Euro 2012 will be broadcast exclusively live, also in HD.
The Afcon deal, especially, marks a windfall for SuperSport as it incorporates a number of continental football properties.
The Afcon arrangement will be for the next three editions (2012, 2013 and 2015). In addition, the rights include the African Nations Championship (2014), African Youth Championship (2013 and 2015), Caf Super Cup (2012-2016), Caf Champions League (remaining matches, plus 2012-2016), Caf Confederations Cup (remaining matches, plus 2012-2016) and the Caf Under-23 Championships.
Botswana, whose national team makes its debut in the competition, have already indicated they will not be able to pay the 15 million needed for the games.
Fears are that Batswana, without access to Digital Satellite Television (DStv) may not be able to follow the games live because of the exorbitant fees.
Government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay admitted it was a challenge as the fee that SportFive are asking for is exorbitant.
“I think you would do better to speak to the national broadcaster, but the national station is dependent on government funding. But yes, it’s certainly a challenge,” Ramsay said.
SportFive, on its website, says it is the world’s premier football agency and one of the largest sports agencies worldwide.
In all, the company has co-operations with more than 30 football associations and over 250 clubs, as well as several leagues.
Furthermore, the International Olympic Committee has awarded them the responsibility for distributing the media rights to the XXII Olympic Winter Games (Sochi 2014) and the Games of the XXXI Olympiad (Rio 2016) in 40 European markets.
The agreement marks a significant milestone in Olympic broadcast history as it is the first time that an agency will manage the sales of these media rights.
SportFive has not responded to questions sent to Idriss Akki, the senior vice-president, director Africa, on December 19 and yesterday.