Dark day for PSL fans: SABC can't afford broadcasting rights

The South African Broadcasting Corporation

The South African Broadcasting Corporation is struggling to secure the broadcasting rights for the local Premier Soccer League.

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It was a quiet weekend for Mzansi’s football fans who didn’t have access to SuperSport, as they could not watch the opening weekend of the much anticipated ABSA Premiership.

On the eve of the season’s kick-off, the SABC announced that it had not reached an agreement with SuperSport to broadcast the matches. IOL reports that the sports broadcasting giant is asking R280 million for the 144 matches per year for five years. However, this would see SuperSport profit just R9.8 million per annum.

"This would not have been a commercially viable agreement for the SABC," said SABC acting CEO Craig Van Rooyen.

"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."

According to Joe Heshu, the MultiChoice (who owns SuperSport) executive for corporate affairs, the SABC’s proposal was effectively asking for a 96% discount on broadcasting rights.

"This grossly devalues the PSL and places its future sustainability and the livelihoods of its players at severe risk," added Heshu.

"The offer is unacceptable to both the PSL and MultiChoice. We trust that the SABC will review its stance and remain open to concluding an agreement on fair commercial terms."

The PSL, who has no shortage of funds, is siding with SuperSport.

"According to SuperSport, the SABC proposal is tantamount to discounting the PSL rights by 96%...this would be unacceptable," the PSL confirmed in a statement.

"In addressing this matter, it is maybe time that the nation accepts that the SABC is incapable of meeting its requirements since a 'blackout' to the majority who consume their football through free to air TV and radio is unacceptable going forward..."

The SABC, SuperSport and the PSL have all submitted statements to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, who will help solve the current impasse.

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