Roux: Icasa ‘remedies’ would ruin SA Rugby

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has added his voice against the loss of exclusivity of broadcasting rights during a public hearing on Thursday.

The removal of exclusivity of broadcasting contest is among the remedies proposed by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), which are being fought by both SA Rugby and the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

Icasa have proposed that broadcast rights should not last longer than three years, that there should be no exclusive deals and that the rights should be split between multiple packages and broadcasters.

However, during a public hearing on the draft findings on Thurday, Roux argued that if Icasa’s proposals were to go through, it could put SA Rugby on the road to financial ruin.

‘If the regulations go through in their current format then we may never see a day like the 2019 World Cup win again,’ Roux said.

‘SA Rugby needs to produce compelling content that is commercially viable so we can develop the game from grassroots level to winning national teams. We are 99.7% self-funded – we get only 0.3% of our income from government – and broadcast rights bring in R752 million.’

During the SA Rugby presentation, Roux pointed out that broadcasting rights make up 58% of their current income, while TV exposure brings in 26%.

‘We are in financial difficulty, having made losses between 2016 and 2018,’ Roux argued. ‘We recovered a little profit in 2019 on the back of the World Cup and we looked forward to capitalising on that, but no one could have predicted what happened in 2020.

‘Covid has pushed us into survival mode and had a massive detrimental effect. We’ve had to cut our budget by R1.2bn. It has made insolvency a real and present danger. We’re on the brink, and if we had not been able to capitalise on broadcast rights, we would have been bankrupt by now.

‘Exclusivity is the main source of our revenue and with less money it means there will be less rugby until we have to close our doors and only have club rugby. And then nobody will be interested in the game.’

Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack