SABC says sorry, but they can’t keep losing money on the PSL

PSL Chairman Dr Irvin Khoza. Pic: BackpagePix

PSL Chairman Dr Irvin Khoza. Pic: BackpagePix

The PSL has said the failure of the SABC to broadcast local football matches has serious implications legally, politically and publicly.

The start of the 2019/20 local football season for fans has gotten off to to a disappointing start after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) announced on Saturday that no one would see any games live on free-to-air channels owned by the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), on either TV or radio.

The SABC has since apologised to the country, citing its precarious financial state. They said they had failed to reach a “sub-licence agreement” with SuperSport, the rights holder.

“The SABC was expected to pay SuperSport R280 million for 144 matches per year for a period of five years, and during that period, the SABC would have made revenue of only R9.8 million per year. This would not have been a commercially viable agreement for the SABC,” said the broadcaster.

“Over the last five years, the public broadcaster has incurred a loss of R1.3 billion in relation to the broadcast of PSL matches and a decision has been taken that any agreement entered into should be financially sound and sustainable for the business, ensuring there is a return on investment for the organisation.

The SABC’s acting chief operations officer Craig van Rooyen said 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.”

In a statement, the league had earlier said they were “disappointed” about the “media blackout” after the SABC failed to reach an agreement with SuperSport.

The PSL said: “Up until the beginning of this week we were made to believe the final bits were being ironed out towards yet another exciting season that the majority consume on free-to-air television provided by the SABC.

“In hindsight, we should have made more of the question by an SABC journalist after the Board of Governors meeting two days ago, on Thursday 1 August 2019, when he revealed that there was no scheduling of weekend matches to be broadcast by the SABC. Knowing what we know now, it is evident that the SABC had already prepared for a ‘blackout’.”

The PSL admitted that it might be time for the nation to accept that “the SABC is incapable of meeting its requirements since a ‘blackout’ to the majority who consume their football through free-to-air television and radio is unacceptable going forward”.

PSL chairman Irvin Khoza had written to government to ask for help on the matter since it had “legal, public and political implications”.

League matches kicked off at 3pm and can now only be consumed through DStv.

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