Less than 24 hours since StarTimes, the pay-television in sub-Saharan Africa, acquired the rights to the Ghana Premier League and FA Cup, the Ghana Football Association and Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the nation’s public broadcaster, have engaged in a bitter dispute over how the rights were awarded.
The rights included within that award were the exclusive rights to the top-tier GPL, knockout FA Cup competition, second-tier Division One, and women’s Premier League and FA Cup matches.
The new award of rights to StarTimes came after the broadcaster and the GFA mutually terminated a 10-year agreement the pair had signed in 2017 which would have been worth $18m (€16.2m) over its lifespan.
GBC has now taken issue with the GFA awarding the rights to StarTimes in a five-year deal worth $5.25m as the public broadcaster claims its offer was worth $50,000 more annually.
GBC claims that its offer would have been worth $1.1m per year which would total $5.5m over the deal’s five-year lifespan.
A letter signed by Mamle Asare, GBC director of corporate affairs said: “Apart from GBC’s superior financial offer, we thought that the [GPL] and FA Cup content would have been treated like a national treasure and given to the national broadcaster and a consortium of local broadcasters.
“GBC wishes to put it on record that the national broadcaster and the local TV consortium have been treated unfairly and unjustly. The GFA decision will gravely impact on Ghanaians’ access to the [GPL] and FA Cup live game on free-to-air broadcast.”
Asare’s letter went on to say that the GBC had previously shown its capacity to broadcast GPL matches by simultaneously broadcasting two matches on its GTV Sports+ and GTV channels, and that it has free-to-air capabilities “like none other”.
The GFA hit back immediately at Asare’s claims, issuing 12 points which it claims refute the GBC’s assertions to lay claim to the rights.
The GFA’s initially opened the tender process on December 5 and invited broadcasters to submit bids before 5pm on December 10.
It is claimed by the GFA that GBC submitted two bids by that deadline: a $1.54m bid for exclusive free-to-air media, digital and radio rights for a four-year period; and a $2.1m bid for exclusive domestic and international media and radio rights for the five properties over the same period.
The GFA detailed that the GBC included a revenue-share condition on any title sponsorship which would have seen the broadcaster receive a 20-per-cent share.
This would have made the GBC’s total offer worth $3.64m over four years, plus the 20 per cent from the revenue share, according to the GFA.
The GFA then claims it met officials from the GBC and informed the broadcaster that its bid was the third-highest the governing body had received. As a result of that meeting, the GFA then claims it decided the make free-to-air highlights packages available.
Third and fourth GBC bids were then submitted, it is claimed, bringing the value up to $6.5m over the four years. The GBC also increased its demand of revenue share up to 30 per cent (according to the GFA).
The GFA said that the headline value was diminished by the GBC’s revenue-share demands which led to its offer being rejected in favour of StarTimes’.
A statement from the GFA said: “The GFA, having gone out of its way to make the highlights show non-exclusive for the benefit of all television stations, does not deserve the deliberate misinformation issued by GBC.
“In conclusion, the GFA wishes to assure its members and all stakeholders that the evaluation conducted on the bid was very thorough and was strictly in compliance with the deadline issued to the Ghanaian public and the world at large.”
The GFA said that it had received bids from seven broadcasters during the tender, though pay-TV broadcaster Supersport was not among that number.
SuperSport held the broadcast rights between 2013 and 2016 in a deal which was thought to be of a substantially lower value than the cancelled StarTimes agreement.