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Court to rule on televising matches

By unknown | Jul 18, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Simon Nare

The battle for rights to televise Premier Soccer League (PSL) games is going to court after the clubs told the SABC: "Your time is up."

The broadcaster, after failing to heed an ultimatum by clubs two weeks ago, was on Monday night told to withdraw arbitration on the matter or lose out completely.

PSL chief executive Trevor Phillips confirmed that PSL clubs' chairmen resolved after a two-day workshop that if the public broadcaster lost the arbitration and clinched a deal with SuperSport on the free-to-air package, that agreement would not be endorsed by the PSL.

Phillips said according to the invitation to tender, any agreement on the free-to-air package should be sanctioned by the PSL.

"The clubs feel that we cannot build a relationship with someone who takes you to court."

He conceded that though it was the SABC's democratic right to pursue the legal route, it was equally the PSL's right not to deal with someone who takes them to court.

"It's also within our rights. Why should we deal with them," said Phillips.

"If SuperSport chooses to deal with the SABC that's fine. But that would mean we have to work with the SABC on a day-to-day basis," he said.

SABC and the PSL met last week to look at the possibility of granting the national broadcaster some games to televise but the talks were deadlocked.

SABC is peeved after PSL awarded broadcast rights to SuperSport International for a reported R1,6billion over five years - far more than the R350million SABC paid over the last five years.

Yesterday, the SABC served the PSL with an urgent interdict to freeze the deal with SuperSport. This in an attempt to continue as first-choice broadcaster for PSL games.

The standoff between the PSL and the SABC came about after the former failed to tender for the broadcast rights when their contract expired in May.

SABC chief executive Dali Mpofu then persistently repeated that they had first rights, especially because they are the national broadcaster.

But the PSL called their bluff and started negotiations with SuperSport and

SuperSport won and has apparently been willing to offer the SABC 110 games, but the national broadcaster apparently insists that "it's all or nothing".

Though the SABC insists on the matter going for arbitration, the PSL has already won a court bid to continue negotiating with the highest bidder.

Details of the interdict were not immediately available but Phillips confirmed that papers had been served.

SABC's spokesman Kaizer Kganyago was not available to confirm this.

Phillips said: "Yes we have been served with an urgent court interdict. I have not seen the papers because I am not in the office.

"They applied for an urgent interdict to prevent the deal between PSL and SuperSport as I understand it."

He said he could not comment before studying the documents.

"I don't know what this means.

"You can't comment until you fully understand the ramifications," he responded when asked if that meant no soccer matches will be flighted before the matter was resolved even after the new season had begun.

Earlier in a statement the SABC's Kganyago said: "The SABC notes the comments attributed to PSL's chief executive Trevor Phillips.

"The SABC's negotiation team is considering Phillips' statement and a comprehensive response will be issued in due course."


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