Imagine a World Cup without television… it would be brilliant! South Africa would have the entire affair all to itself, and, blessed with such riches, would quickly adopt a casual attitude toward them. The country would trundle along on its daily business, for the most part oblivious to the roars and cheers emanating from its new and refurbished stadia. Eventually a team would win – Brazil, most like – and the news would get out in sleepy fashion, and people would say, “Gee, they’ve done it again, that’s nice…”
No, no – that’s all wrong – it would be – arrgh – horrible! But that’s the kind of scenario that was painted for South Africa’s Parliament yesterday. With UN chief Kofi Annan listening in (he’s here on a two-week visit; I’ve seen his motorcade and it’s frightening), the doughty heroes at Sentech – the government-supported company which operates the country’s broadcasting signals network – marched in bravely, flung themselves to the ground, and banged their begging bowls, crying out “O babu ek paisa day-ray!”, a phrase they picked up on a recent trip to India.
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It seems that, without billions in new investment, our broadcasting infrastructure might not be up to scratch come 2010, leading to intermittent soccer blackouts – just like the intermittent power blackouts we’ve been having in Cape Town.
Never fear, though, soccer fans – the dread hand of FIFA will make itself felt before that scenario is allowed to unfold, and the result of it’s extra-parliamentary slappings-around will doubtless be high-definition bliss.