Report: Nigeria - Africa Cup of Nations

Nigerians can't watch Africa Cup of Nations on local TV

Reuters/Mike Hutchings

The Africa Cup of Nations is entertaining millions of people round the world. But football fans in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, are unable to watch the matches on local television. Nigerian television stations say agents of Sportfive, the Paris-based international sports rights marketing agency, asked for an excessive amount to enable them to broadcast matches live. All this is good news for viewing centres where people can watch football games on cable television channels. Business in these viewing centres is now booming.


Nigerians cannot watch this important football tournament on local television.

The broadcasting organization of Nigeria, the umbrella body of Nigeria’s electronic media, says this is the sacrifice Nigerians have to make in order to stop international sports rights marketing agencies from making excessive demands for television coverage.

"We the broadcasters, the media owners in Nigeria, have decided to take the bull by the horns and be masters of our own destiny. We have decided that we will not accept a situation where some shylock individuals come into Nigeria brandishing rights documents to us and forcing broadcasters to accept such rights hook line and sinker, " says Abubakar Jijiwa, Chairman of the broadcasting organisation of Nigeria.

Nigerian television stations drew this battle line following their disagreement with agents of Sportfive, the company that has the rights for  broadcast of the Africa Cup of Nations. 
Nigerian television stations say the 4.5 million euros they were asked to pay is not economical.

"We are not adverse to buying rights from anybody or any individual or any group. We are saying that those rights must be economically beneficial to our member stations. Anything that will not be economically beneficial to our member stations is unacceptable to us," Jijiwa adds.

With this disagreement, Nigerians are only able to watch the Africa Cup of Nations tournament on cable television. But very few Nigerians can afford cable television.

So many are paying to watch the matches in noisy football viewing centers.

Many fans here, like Emmanuel Uche, are angry about the high fee Nigeria was asked to pay to enable local television stations broadcast the matches.

"This is an embarrassment given to a country like Nigeria", he says.

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An agent of Sportfive, the Paris-based international sports agency which has the marketing rights for the tournament, says the disagreement over fees was because Nigeria television stations offered very little money to broadcast the tournament.

Back at the football viewing centre, Laja Oduwole, who runs the place, says he has experienced a boom in business.

"Some people are coming to watch the ball and I make my money."

As he makes his money, others are counting their loss. Nigerians believe the biggest loser is the international sports marketing agency which was hoping to make a substantial part of its profit from Nigeria, during this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

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