The story of ‘a briefcase company’ awarded the rights to live stream Premier League games is threatening to light the powder keg at the Botswana Football League (BFL).
According to sources, the BFL board of Directors have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with little known Kitso Media to provide live streaming services this season. Sources say as part of this ‘deal,’ Kitso Media would produce some games which the current broadcast rights holder Botswana Television (Btv) cannot broadcast.
While details are still sketchy, it is said the agreement would increase the number of games broadcast in a season from 30 to 100, thus allowing supporters who are banned from attending matches due to the ongoing Covid-19 an opportunity to watch as many games as possible.
The angst against the appointment of Kitso Media however hinges on the manner in which the process was undertaken. Shareholders believe the invitation to live stream should have been sent out for all companies with live streaming capability to express interest.
What worries them even more is that the selected company, is not only an unknown company with no known capabilities, but also has no track record of television production, let alone live streaming a social event.
Shareholders believe that the BFL Board of Directors chaired by Ralebala went behind their backs to sign a deal which they believe will have bad financial repercussions on teams.
“Shareholders have asked on many times in our WhatsApp group for the board members to confirm the allegations that they have signed a MoU with Kitso media which they denied. They denied it on numerous occasions despite the tipoff that they have signed,” explained the source.
One of the details the shareholders wanted was to understand how the football clubs in the elite league would benefit from Kitso Media’s engagement. The person further revealed that few shareholders warned against signing the MoU without first having to appreciate what it entails.
“We cautioned them they should never sign anything that has monetary implications before they see it. They promised that they will not sign anything and they promised the MoU document will be shared among shareholders. That was a lie. They never shared it and only signed it behind shareholders’ backs,” said one of the shareholders.
According to CIPA record the company is owned by Ronald Modikana, former Mochudi Centre Chiefs committee member. Sources however say there is more to the ownership than what CIPA shows.
They allege that Kitso media has links to one leader at the BFA as well as one director at Government’s Mass media complex.
Sources say way before the company MoU was signed, the person associated with Kitso Media from the mass media complex had approached one prominent shareholder seeking his patronage to solicit partnership with BFL to live stream matches.
What worried the said shareholder, according to a source, was that the said company did not have a place of operation, had no employees or even equipment. “The shareholder described it as a briefcase company,” the source said.
With Btv allegedly having long wanted to only buy content and not produce, sources say the plan by all parties involved is to position Kitso Media to take over and produce matches once the Btv deal expires.
It is alleged that once the one-year deal with Btv elapses, sources say the latter will then relinquish all production interest, allowing Kitso Media to take over the total production of matches and sell content and feed to Btv.
To pave way for the takeover, it is alleged that the multi-year Btv broadcast deal which was negotiated by the previous BFL board was terminated and replaced with a one season deal.
Under the five-year broadcast deal negotiated by the previous board that was chaired by Township Rollers president Jagdish Shah, BTV had allegedly agreed to buy the broadcasting rights at an initial P5million fee which would have then escalated at an undisclosed percentage annually.
“The progress made by the previous committee was promising and it was only a matter of time to pen contracts after lifting of suspension of sport. But it looks like all the efforts they made have been abandoned,” said the source.
When reached for comment, BFL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Solomon Ramochotlhwane confirmed there is an agreement in place with Kitso Media. The BFL CEO was also skittish when asked on the details of the agreement.
Pressed further, the BFL CEO said details regarding the agreement with Kitso Media will be revealed next week. The CEO also refused to comment on the capability and experience of the company to produce live coverage.
Attempts to solicit comments from BFL Board chairman Ralebala proved futile as his mobile phone rang unanswered.