Ministers discuss PSL broadcasting rights

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, together with Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, has met with the leadership of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to discuss the Premier Soccer League (PSL) broadcasting rights.

“We are very concerned that sport, as a vehicle for social cohesion and nation building and its primary audience, are the most affected by the current blackout,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

The Ministers met with the leadership of the SABC, comprising members of the Executive and members the Board, on Tuesday.

The SABC briefed both the Ministers on the events that have led to the regrettable and unfortunate happenstance relating to the acquisition of PSL broadcasting rights.

The Ministers were informed that the SABC was expected to pay SuperSport R280 million for 144 matches per year for a period of five years. During that period, the SABC would have made revenue of only R9.8 million per year.

The Ministers noted that this would not have been a commercially viable agreement for the public broadcaster.

According to the joint statement issued by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), the public broadcaster’s offer for SABC Radio broadcasting rights for R53 million, in trade exchange for airtime, has yet to be accepted by the PSL.

“Both Ministers are treating this matter with the utmost importance as their primary concern is to ensure that the South African public is adequately served by the SABC. We mull this while mindful of the delicate balance that must be achieved, despite competing interests,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

The SABC executives have stated that over the last five years, the public broadcaster has incurred a loss of R1.3 billion in relation to the broadcast of PSL matches.

This is what led to a decision being taken that any agreement entered into should be financially sound and sustainable for the business.

“Both Ministers [agree] the current PSL/SuperSport commercial agreement pertaining to broadcasting rights is a point of concern as it does not take into account the poor, indigent and otherwise financially burdened citizens who are unable to afford pay TV platforms,” the joint statement said.

These discussions are taking place at a time when the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is formulating a regulatory framework that will ensure equal access of Sport Broadcasting Rights by all the broadcasters, including free-to-air channels.

“There is growing need to find each other for a lasting solution. It is unfortunate that broadcast rights holder could not attend the meeting today.

“However, this will be rectified in the coming day’s engagements. Our being here is testament of our public mandate as public representatives and ours is to see the public interest prevail. That is the basis on which we are approaching these engagements. We are determined to this impasse resolved with haste,” Mthethwa said.  

The scheduled meeting invitation was also extended to both PSL, and current soccer broadcast rights holder SuperSport, and both parties could not attend this meeting due to prior commitments.

“However, this being an on-going stakeholder engagement, both Ministers will continue engaging all parties in their joint and individual capacities,” the joint statement said.

Mthethwa has since met with the Chairperson of the PSL, Dr Irvin Khoza in this regard. –