The Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku on Monday said that Nigeria’s inability to broadcast live matches from the African Nations Cup was in the interest of sports development in the country.
Maku said this during an inspection of ongoing work at the Inland River Port in Oguta, Imo.
The minister, who apologised to Nigerians for the blackout on live matches of the tournament, said that the demand of the rights holder was highly exploitative.
According to Maku, “it is necessary for Nigeria to call their bluff because they were not willing to bring down the price despite efforts by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON)
“All efforts made by BON through the agent LC2 did not work. From eight million euros, they came to six million then 4.5 million Euro; so you can see that it is not a scientific charge, it is a kind of casino pricing.
“BON decided that this year, Nigeria should call the bluff of this agent and maybe next time the Confederation of African Football will be more sensitive when it comes to hiring of agents to vent the broadcasting rights of the African Nations Cup,” he said.
The minister said that Nigeria would no longer tolerate agents who would turn the country into a cash cow.
“Nigeria cannot be a cash cow for every agent to come and exploit. We have to call the bluff of people that want to abuse our generosity.
“We are making this collective sacrifice for a better future. We will work with BON to agree on a new formula for these prices and we will want to see that what we pay should not be different from any other African country.”
He said that broadcast stations would have ran at a loss because no telecommunications company would have advertised knowing that this year’s Nations Cup was sponsored by Orange, also a telecommunications company.
He said that the Federal Government had offered to augment the cost if BON could negotiate a fair price but the agents said they could not move from the price tag they were offering.
“BON advised government not to intervene.
“They said they will not want the government to use public money to any agent because it is not good to our country and the agent has not treated Nigeria fairly.”
He however assured that Nigerians would get a better deal in 2014.
Several efforts by BON to strike a deal with the right holders, LC2 did not yield any result. (NAN)