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Football lovers left in the dark

2019-08-04 09:00

The start of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) season is one which is mostly anticipated by football-mad South Africans, who are eager to see their teams back in action after a two-month break.

But many who rely on public broadcaster SABC TV and radio to watch and listen to live matches were left disappointed yesterday.

This is because millions were left in the dark after the cash-strapped SABC failed to broadcast the start of the new season.

According to an SABC insider, the stations were told not mention the word ‘PSL’ on any of their platforms. The most popular sport was only beamed live on pay-channel SuperSport.

Irate supporters vented their frustrations towards both organisations on social media.

Earlier yesterday the SABC issued a statement saying it had failed to reach an agreement with SuperSport. “The SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) regrets to announce that no sublicence agreement was reached with SuperSport in respect to the broadcast of matches of the new PSL season.

“The SABC was expected to pay SuperSport R280 million for 144 matches a year for a period of five years and, during that period, the SABC would have made revenue of only R9.8 million a year. This would not have been a commercially viable agreement for the SABC. In the past five years, the public broadcaster has incurred a loss of R1.3 billion in relation to the broadcast of PSL matches and a decision has been taken that any agreement entered into should be financially sound and sustainable for the business, ensuring that there is return on investment for the organisation.

“The SABC would like to apologise to all South Africans. However, for the financial sustainability of the SABC, we will not continue with deals that are not commercially viable.”

In its statement, the PSL said it regretted that “the South African followers of the beautiful game will, as a result of matters beyond our immediate control, not find the PSL football matches on the free-to-air television and radio channels of the SABC”.

“Until the beginning of the week, we were made to believe the final bits were being ironed out towards yet another exciting season that the majority consume on free-to-air television provided by the SABC.”

The PSL statement said that according to SuperSport: “The SABC proposal is tantamount to discounting the PSL rights by 96%. This would be unacceptable.”

It said PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza wrote an urgent letter to the ministers of communication, sport, arts and culture, in which he stated that the non-broadcast of the matches on the SABC had legal, public and political implications. “In addressing this matter, it is maybe time that the nation accept that the SABC is incapable of meeting its requirements since a ‘blackout’ to the majority who consume their football through free-to-air television and radio is unacceptable.”

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October 20 2019