Ministers Nathi Mthethwa and Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams meet SABC over PSL broadcasting rights

Joint Press Statement: Ministers Nathi Mthethwa and Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams meet the public broadcaster in ongoing stakeholder engagements over current PSL games not being broadcast on SABC platforms

Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Ms Stella Ndabeni- Abrahams together with Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Mr Nathi Mthethwa have on Tuesday met with leadership of the SABC comprising members of the Executive as well as members 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 of Premier Soccer League (PSL) broadcasting rights.

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

These discussions are taking place against the backdrop of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) being hard at work to formulate a regulatory framework that will ensure equal access of Sport Broadcasting Rights by all the broadcasters including the free-to-air channels.

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 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. We mull this while mindful of the delicate balance that must be achieved despite competing interests, said Minister Ndabeni- Abrahams.

The Ministers have been 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.

They also noted that this would not have been a commercially viable agreement for the public broadcaster. That the public broadcaster's offer for SABC Radio broadcasting rights for R53 million (in trade exchange for airtime) is yet to be accepted by the PSL was also cited to the Ministers.

In the meeting with the Ministers, the 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 been taken that any agreement entered into, should be financially sound and sustainable for the business.

Both Ministers says 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.

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.

Source: Department of Arts and Culture