Broadcast tug-o-war over PSL is hotting up
The Johannesburg high court is expected to say today whether soccer lovers can make the big switch to e.tv or must stay with the SABC to watch their Premier Soccer League (PSL) games.
The two broadcasters, as well as M-Net's Supersport, are involved in a race to secure the rights to cover PSL games. The PSL, on the other hand, says there is nothing binding them to the SABC and that they want to be free to give their contract to the highest bidder.
The contract is said to be worth millions. Though all stakeholders refused to reveal details yesterday, research shows that the contract was worth R110million over three years in 2000. It is now valued at R78million for the current year.
The SABC, which has broadcast PSL matches over the years, is seeking an order to stop the premier league from shopping around for a new broadcast partner.
e.tv's legal adviser, Steven Budlender, told the Johannesburg high court yesterday that the PSL had approached e.tv and asked it to submit a tender for broadcast rights.
"e.tv received an invitation from the PSL to tender for the broadcast rights. e.tv has already signed a confidentiality agreement with the soccer body," he said.
e.tv argued that if the SABC were granted the "relief" it sought, it would affect e.tv because it was preparing to tender for the bid.
Budlender argued that the SABC's application for an interdict was "anti-competitive".
The SABC, which has enjoyed a broadcast monopoly of all PSL matches in the past, said it believed the PSL was in breach of a verbal agreement.
The PSL's contract with the SABC expires in May.
PSL's outgoing chief executive Trevor Phillips told the court:
"Our job is to maximise our commercial rights."
Phillips said that if the SABC were not granted the interdict and competed on an even footing with the other broadcasters, e.tv would probably increase its offer.