PSL-SABC spat robs millions of live football broadcasts

Irvin Khoza (Gallo Images)
Irvin Khoza (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - About 10 million listeners were denied access to Absa Premiership matches this weekend as the spat over radio broadcasting rights between the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the SABC continues unabated.

The two sides continued with their mud-slinging, each accusing the other of “unsporting behaviour”.

Yesterday, PSL acting chief executive Mato Madlala accused the public broadcaster of “lying” when it said it was only notified late on Friday that it was not permitted to dish out the games on its 18 radio stations.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago accused Madlala of being economical with the truth.

“We only received a phone call from the PSL between 5pm and 6pm last evening (Friday), informing us that we were not allowed to broadcast their matches on our radio stations,” said Kganyago.

“That is why we only issued a statement informing the public of this development at 9pm.”

Earlier, Madlala said: “They are lying that we only informed them yesterday (Friday). We’ve been holding talks for quite some time and they knew that there was no contract.”

Without delving into much detail as PSL chair Irvin Khoza “is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow to thoroughly address this issue”, Madlala accused the public broadcaster of disingenuity, saying it failed to meet their obligations last season, and then hit the PSL with a contract that had all new terms and conditions on Thursday and expected it to be signed on the day.

Kganyago, who said about 10 million people usually listen to the live radio PSL match broadcasts, admitted that they had approached the PSL with a contract on Thursday.

“It was one of our follow-up meetings, and we came with a presentation and they came with their own. There was no agreement, but we left the meeting with an understanding that we will broadcast this weekend’s matches pending an agreement and signing of the contract.”

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa entered the fray, saying: “Soccer is the sport most followed by the poor and the working class in our country. The rural masses, taxi operators and truck drivers 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 the jobs of many broadcast sports journalists. The decisions they make in boardrooms must never affect the majority of our people negatively.”

Reports that Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane might be involved in these meetings could not be confirmed yesterday as her phone went unanswered.

However, Kganyago said the SABC had upraised her on the latest developments.

The background that City Press has is that the SABC used to pay host clubs directly for broadcasting their matches on radio.

The broadcaster later approached the PSL pleading poverty and asked for the contract to be reviewed. The review tasked the SABC with carrying promotional material on all its radio stations, with the sponsors coming in to pay for the recording thereof, which was done at the SABC studios.

According to a highly placed source, the SABC did not do all of this for the rest of last season.

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