Sunday, August 5, 2018

Premier Soccer League blocks the SABC from airing any further PSL matches on SABC radio, citing the broadcaster's failure to adhere to the production and airing agreements of the contract.

South Africa's Premier Soccer League (PSL) has blocked the South African public broadcaster from broadcasting any further PSL matches on any of the SABC's radio stations, citing the broadcaster's failure the past few years to adhere to the production and airing of PSL promos to promote PSL content.

The SABC will continue to broadcast PSL matches on SABC television, with the new PSL season that kicked off on 4 August, and is also being televised by SuperSport on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

The PSL decision comes after the SABC approached the PSL as late as Thursday the past week with a contract for coverage and licensing rights of the new PSL season. The PSL turned it down.

That led the SABC to issue a statement late on Friday, abruptly informing the South African public that PSL matches on SABC radio is a thing of the past. The minister of sport, Tokozile Xasa, will now intervene as radio listeners making use of the SABC's radio services are shocked and angry about the SABC's inability to provide coverage.

The SABC in a statement on Friday late afternoon said "the SABC would like to advise the South African public that it will not broadcast the PSL matches on radio".

"This decision follows careful consideration to the SABC's business operations and the unsuccessful negotiations with the PSL to secure the broadcast rights for soccer matches on radio. The SABC and PSL could not reach a consensus with regards to the terms of the contract and this has unfortunately led to the SABC not being able to close the deal with the PSL."

"At this stage the SABC will only broadcast the PSL soccer matches on its television platform."

The SABC said it "will not be coerced to conclude business deals which may compromise its business operations. The SABC was only informed this afternoon that it is prohibited to broadcast the PSL matches on radio and greatly regrets this outcome."

What the SABC failed to mention, was why the PSL didn't sign a new contract with the public broadcaster, which is the SABC's failure for the past number of years to keep to the agreed upon stipulations of the contract to produce at the SABC's cost, and air, promos about the PSL that the SABC should broadcast on SABC radio to promote PSL soccer.

The SABC wants to shift the responsibility of the production costs - believed to be around R40 million - to the PSL, after it also failed to produce the agreed-upon promos for SABC radio the last few years for PSL coverage.

The SABC further owes Michael Owen Productions R15 million - a case that is currently embroiled in a legal dispute - after the service provider helped the SABC for 3 years to produce this content so that the public broadcaster can keep to its end of its PSL contract.

SABC Sport abruptly took it over only to then fail and not produce a single radio promo for the PSL.

Mato Madlala, acting PSL CEO, on Friday 3 August, sent a letter to all PSL clubs, instructing them to bar all SABC radio personnel.

"The league has today received a letter from the SABC repudiating its obligations under the radio broadcast and promotion agreement."

"Until such time as we receive confirmation from the SABC that they will meet their obligations, the SABC radio cannot be permitted to cover Absa Premiership matches."

"Please ensure that no SABC radio personnel are permitted access to any matches and/or allow any are allowed to cover any matches until such time as the league receives confirmation from the SABC that they will meet their obligations under the agreement".

Irvin Khoza, PSL chairperson, is expected to hold a press conference on Monday to explain how the SABC failed to keep to its end of the bargain regarding SABC radio broadcasts of PSL promos.

The minister of sport, Thokozile Xasa, in a statement on Saturday said "Soccer is the sport mostly followed by the poor and the working class in our country, the rural mass, taxi operators and truck drivers who solely depend on radio to follow this beautiful game."

"I will be meeting with all relevant parties this coming week as this decision threatens social cohesion in our country and threatens jobs of many broadcasting sports journalists. The decisions they make in boardrooms must never affect the majority of our people negatively. I have full confidence that we will reach a decision that will satisfy the majority of soccer-loving people."