TEMITAYO OJEWUNMI/AIPS – ABUJA:  Hours before the kickoff to the 2013 African Nations Cup in South Africa, Nigerian television audience and radio listeners found themselves at risk of being blacked-out from the tournament.

The finals opened with hosts South Africa being held surprisingly to a 0-0 draw by minnows Cape Verde in Soccer City in Johannesburg. Later Angola and Morocco also shared a goalless draw.

The Nations Cup, held every two years, has been switched to an odd-numbered year to avoid problems created for nations who also qualified for the World Cup finals.

LC2, the rights owners for the Confederation of African Football, and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria had failed to reach an agreement on the broadcast price to air all the matches.

Negotiations started late last year in November with BON offering $1.2m to JCM-African Sports Consulting after being invited to tender. The offer was turned down with JCM-African Sports Consulting insisting on €8m.

JCM-African Sports Consulting later referred BON to LC2 for further negotiations, which saw BON increasing its offer to $2.5m while LC2 also dropped its price to €4.5m. Still no agreement was reached at their  last meeting in the country’s capital, Abuja, on Monday.

BON Chairman, Abubakar Jijiwa however said the offer is still on the table for LC2 to consider.

Agreeing with BON stance on the issue, the Group Managing Director of one of Nigeria’s largest broadcast operators, Tony Akiotu of DAAR Communications plc said: “In the last one decade, most of us in the industry had not made any profit from broadcasting AFCON, but because of our love for the industry and the game in our country, we have kept at it, but it’s about time we stop this regular act of events marketers ripping us off.”

This meant that, for the first time in the championship’s history, Africa most populous nation of about 160m people might not watch live on terrestrial television on which a majority of fans depend,  compared with the very few with access to cable television.

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