Shooting from the hip – Broadcasting Rights No Pack of Smokes


Carlos Kambaekwa

The vacuum left by pay channel MultiChoice’s failure to acquire exclusive broadcast rights for the popular English Premiership matches is an eye opener and a wake-up call for those in the business of the beautiful game.

I’ve always maintained that football itself is a raw product popularized by the live coverage of the television industry, through its millions of eyeballs who for practical reasons do not have access to the stadiums to be physically in attendance of live action.

There has been lot of dialogue over the quality of English football with many pundits tapping the English Premiership to be the best league in global football.

It could be argued that from a television point of view, the English Premiership might appear appetizing because of the quality of production and technology used to capture the action on camera, while the atmosphere at English games is absolutely electrifying, aided by the construction of stadiums which makes it much easier for fans to feel part of each and every move on the pitch.

In my opinion, La Liga, Serie-A and both South America’s Paulista and Maximo leagues are a notch above the English Premiership in terms of quality on the pitch, but the lack of decent television coverage reduces these leagues to second tier products in comparison with the much-hyped English Premiership.

The financially muscled Supersport’s pay channel could only manage to acquire a mere 20 percent of matches in the popular English Premiership and this exercise could have far-reaching repercussions for the face of English football on the African continent, or it could be a blessing in disguise for the poorly financed leagues in the Cosafa region.

Broadcasting rights cannot be talked about in the same breath as the business of disposing a packet of cigarettes and not to be bothered as to what the consumer will do with it the moment he or she leaves the shop counter.

A significant number of Kambashu owners wouldn’t give a damn whether the customer throws away their newly acquired packet of Lexington or mixes it with some green ingredients and puffs it away – that’s certainly nobody’s business.

Should the Namibian Premiership wish to sell television and radio broadcasting rights to any potential broadcaster, it surely needs to look at various aspects of production and set up certain requirements when it comes to the expertise of commentators and the number of cameras to be used during the live transmission of its matches and all that kind of jazz.

Sub-standard production has the potential to drive away potential viewers and league administrators would be better advised to approach the issue of broadcast rights with the suspicion of a poker player.

It would require a collective effort by all stakeholders to properly market domestic football through the power of television, and we should not even start thinking about the amount of moolah at stake – firstly, the standard of football needs to improve dramatically if we harbour any thoughts of beefing up the customary low attendance at league matches.

The televised action would be a dull affair without the natural noise of spectators and cut-away shots of colourful fans urging their favourite teams on – these are all aspects that need to be tackled before the ball gets rolling.

After losing its grip on the exclusive broadcast rights for Africa over the English Premiership, Supersport wasted little time and wrestled the broadcast rights for the South African Professional Soccer League away from the South African Broadcasting Corporation in a five-year deal worth 1,6 billion dollars – leaving the public broadcaster fuming.

But the real winners in the transaction were neither teams nor the players – the five officials who brokered the deal stand to benefit greatly from the multi-million dollar deal, with each of them pocketing a hefty commission of 10 percent which amounts to 30 million dollars for a deal which was already there for the taking.

Did I hear an esteemed member of the Board of Governors crying foul over the pittance grant advanced to teams in the domestic Premiership as starting capital?

Well, I’m not quite sure how much knowledge trickles down to club officials from all the advanced courses that have been offered by the World’s football governing body (FIFA) under the auspices of the Namibian Football Association.

The current mess in which teams in the Premiership find themselves entangled is a result of their own making – what was their input and response when the mother-body sealed the lucrative contract with the Consortium of Sponsors.

The clubs through their representatives on the Board of Governors were duly consulted and given ample time to peruse and digest the content of the contract prior to endorsement, so what is all the fuss about?

Logic suggests the clubs must swallow their pride and rather try to wangle their way out of the existing contract, because there should be a way out given the Brave Warriors unhindered participation in the regional Cosafa Castle cup competition.

The Board of Governors needs to become inter-dependant and be in total control of its own affairs, but as long as somebody else is paying the bills – domestic football will continue to suffer at the hands of self-centered officials.

Finally before I sign off, there have been sinister moves to threaten and silence the author of this column from faceless callers under the guise of concerned readers who strongly believe yours truly is pursuing a personal vendetta against the NFA President without disputing what has been inked.

Rest assured this dude is a product of the toughies from the kassie and would not be scared off by so-called fans whose real contribution to the game is yet to be proven.


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