SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux says plans to make key sports free-to-air on television in South Africa could harm the future of the Springboks.
South African broadcasting regulator Icasa wants to amend sports broadcasting regulations to ensure that events of national interest, such as the World Cup and Vodacom Super Rugby, receive full live coverage free-to-air.
However, with SA Rugby struggling to retain players in the face of lucrative European contracts, Roux claimed that the loss of broadcasting revenue, which makes up 57% of SA Rugby’s income, would cause considerable harm to rugby over the next five years.
‘Our doors will close in the next five years if these regulations are implemented,’ Roux said in a hearing on the draft regulations. ‘Exclusivity is key in sport and the current regulations strike a good balance. But at this rate there won’t be sport in five years and there won’t be the Springboks.
‘Rugby is a business‚ we don’t receive money from the government, we don’t have charitable status and we have zero donors. The income we earn is reinvested for the benefit of rugby and South Africans.
‘Sponsorships will never cover the value of broadcasting revenue, and without income and funding we will have no sport. Our plea is to protect the sport which is a national asset because it will not survive. We will not have funding to start grassroots projects and in sport around the world‚ exclusivity is the basis on which rights are sold.’
Photo: Brendan Moran/Getty Images