Sunday, August 11, 2019

Censorship of information returns to SABC as South African public broadcaster's radio boss orders stations not to mention PSL match scores or do any commentary or coverage because the SABC doesn't have match broadcast rights.

Censorship of general information has returned to the South African public broadcaster with the SABC's radio boss Leuba Ramakgolo who on Thursday ordered the broadcaster's radio stations not to do any coverage or commentary of the PSL's Absa Premiership soccer matches or to even mention match scores to listeners.

Weirdly the SABC still carries both rugby and cricket content and match scores although the SABC also don't have broadcasting rights to those tournaments and competitions either.

The SABC failed to reach a deal with SuperSport for the sub-licensing of broadcasting rights to some matches of the Premier Soccer League's (PSL) new Absa Premiership season leading to yet another soccer blackout on the South African public broadcaster.

The beleaguered SABC demanded a 96% discount on the price to acquire sub-licensing rights from MultiChoice and SuperSport that is showing PSL matches on the DStv satellite pay-TV service.

The ongoing, massive problem with sports rights remains unsolved by the South African government and the departments of sports and communications, who constantly - after a blackout crisis at the SABC - respond with meetings that lead to nothing.

South Africa's minister of sports, arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa, and South Africa's minister of communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, failed in addressing and fixing the macro-structural problem of the SABC being unable to afford and pay for PSL broadcast licensing rights.

Nathi Mthethwa said that "This situation is unfortunate and undesirable and myself and my cabinet colleague, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams are in constant engagement together with all other relevant stakeholders to procure a long-lasting solution and for things to return to normality".

On Sunday The Sunday Times reported that the SABC's radio boss ordered a radio blackout about the PSL on Thursday with SABC radio stations that have been ordered not to give any exposure to the PSL through commentary or on-air mentions, with even match scores that must not be mentioned although it's news and of public interest.

The email that Leuba Ramakgolo sent to SABC radio stations notes that "We have been receiving inquiries from stations regarding what limitations are when it comes to PSL-related content. Some of the stations have indicated that they have been approached by individual teams seeking to enter into partnership and possible trade exchanges with them".

"For example, a team in Limpopo approached one of the stations seeking promotion of their game and their trip to Durban".

"Please make sure that the programme managers are informed that we cannot promote any PSL games nor conduct interviews with the teams, the players and any roleplayers in the PSL business until an agreement is in place between the SABC and the PSL."

"Such agreement will clearly stipulate the terms and conditions under which execution will take place. This is to avoid any possible litigation that may emanate from our on-air conduct."

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu said "The SABC has taken a decision that in light of no agreement being in place between the SABC and the PSL, the SABC is not in a position to cover games and conduct such interviews as they would have formed part of the agreement of how the SABC covers PSL-related activities".