With the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) not showing any matches from the opening weekend of the Absa Premiership , the government has stepped in to try and solve the situation.
On Tuesday, a high-level meeting took place between Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.
The pair met with the leadership of the SABC including members of the executive as well as members of the board.
The SABC briefed both the ministers in order to provide an in-depth understanding of the events that have led to the very regrettable and unfortunate happenstance relating to the acquisition – or rather, the failure thereof – of Premier Soccer League (PSL) broadcasting rights.
The scheduled meeting invitation was also extended to both PSL, and current broadcast rights holder SuperSport, however both parties could not attend this meeting due to prior commitments.
Both ministers were informed that 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.
The SABC also made an offer for SABC Radio broadcasting rights to the value of R53 million (in trade exchange for airtime). This offer has yet to be accepted by the PSL.
SABC executives further 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, leading to a decision that any agreement entered into should be financially sound and sustainable for the business.
Both ministers agreed that the current PSL/SuperSport commercial agreement pertaining to broadcasting rights is an area of grave concern, as it does not take into account the poor, indigent and otherwise financially burdened citizens who are unable to afford pay TV platforms.
Ndabeni-Arabrams and Mthethwa agreed that the matter needed to be solved soon.
“Both ministers are treating this matter as an urgent and therefore foremost concern to ensure that the South African public is adequately served by the SABC. We are very concerned that sport as vehicle for social cohesion and nation-building and its primary audience are the most affected by the current ‘blackout’ of games not being broadcast on both its TV and radio platforms. We are deliberating this matter while mindful of the delicate balance that must be achieved despite competing public and private interests,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Mthethwa added: “There is an overpowering need to find each other for a lasting solution. It is unfortunate that the broadcast rights holder could not attend the meeting on Tuesday. However, this will be rectified in the coming day’s engagements. Our being here is a show of our collective responsibility as public representatives which necessitates us to ensure that the public interest prevails. That is the basis on which we are approaching these engagements. We are determined to see this impasse resolved with haste.”