SABC general manager for sport Gary Rathbone has explained Radio 2000’s decision not to cover the Test series between the Proteas and India.
In an interview with Sport24, Rathbone said it was based on Radio 2000’s path to becoming a commercial station.
“They say that it takes too much time and it disrupts the other programming that they have. Those programmes have revenue … they are trying to build the commercial values of the station and the cricket is disrupting that.
“I have been fighting this with the relevant executives, but the position is that they have to support Radio 2000’s attempts to be more successful from a commercial basis, and they support their decision not to carry the cricket,” Rathbone added.
“I’m very upset and disappointed by this, but it is the reality of what I have to deal with.”
Radio broadcaster Neil Manthorp described the SABC’s decision as “my personal moment of nadir” in a recent column on South African cricket’s woes over the past two years.
“A couple of days ago I was part of a conference call with the SABC production team with whom I have enjoyed a largely happy 30-year association,” he wrote. “During the call, the commentators were informed that ball-by-ball radio commentary during the India tour would not be happening.
“I won’t bore you with the details. There is undoubtedly internal politicking going on, and in the absence of much live cricket and other sport in the last couple of years, the SABC’s flagship sports station – Radio 2000 – has done a brilliant job of rebranding itself as a popular music portal with some of the best hosts in the country. It is a great listen. I do all the time when I’m driving and not working. But it was started as a medium to broadcast live sport.
“But the disinterest in cricket is not just commercial. It stems from the endless stream of putrid scandals the game’s former administrators oversaw for so long. They were incapable of seeing the future over their own, small enclaves power and perks.
“For the first decade almost every piece of correspondence I received from listeners was from privileged white folk enjoying commentary on the drive to their holiday home on the coast. In the last 10 years, they have almost all come from young fans without access to SuperSport or even free-to-air TV on the SABC. They learned about the game on the radio. They are, and will always be, the most joyous messages I ever receive.”