THE SABC used the World Cup as an excuse to avoid an interdict overturning a questionable R400 million contract – but it has now emerged that it doesn't have a broadcast contract with Fifa, write Louise Flanagan and Baldwin Ndaba in The Star.

That's what the Johannesburg High Court was expected to hear Monday when the public broadcaster was hauled back to court by Digital Horizons over a tender dispute.

Last year, the SABC told the high court it had obligations to Fifa to televise the Confederations Cup in June and the World Cup, and could not delay the awarding of a contract to buy four high-definition outside-broadcast (OB) vans from Sony South Africa, even though competing bidder Digital Horizons claimed the award was unfair.

Now Fifa's broadcasting agent is expected to tell the court this week that it does not need OB trucks from the SABC.

In response to a subpoena to appear in the case, lawyers for Fifa's agent, Host Broadcast Services (HBS), said there was no contract.

"Our client wishes to advise that no such contract between HBS and the SABC exists," wrote the lawyers. "In addition, no SABC OB trucks will be required by HBS for the 2010 Fifa World Cup to be held in South Africa."

HBS is hired by Fifa to deal with all aspects of broadcasting the event.

HBS and Fifa declined to comment to The Star.

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