Effort to get to bottom of broadcast rights saga

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The South African Broadcasting Corporation will meet the Premier Soccer League today in what could be described as D-day for the beleaguered state broadcaster.

Dali Mpofu, SABC chief executive , wrote to the PSL on Friday requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the soccer broadcast rights.

The request comes after SABC board chairman Eddie Funde met Irvin Khoza, PSL chairman, in an attempt to get to the bottom of the problem.

This was after the PSL executive committee unanimously awarded the broadcast rights to pay television channel SuperSport International two weeks ago.

The SABC was clearly not amused by the PSL's move.

This resulted in Mpofu using SABC television and radio stations to instil confusion in many South Africans that they won't be able to watch professional soccer on TV any more unless they subscribe to the pay channel.

Khoza said he would be attending today's meeting with Kaizer Motaung, chairman of the PSL finance subcommittee.

"It is true that we are going to the meeting requested by the SABC tomorrow. We had another one on Thursday with the SABC board chairman [Funde]," said Khoza.

"There are no deadlines - what I can say is that there are issues that the SABC CEO must respond to at that meeting."

SuperSport chief executive Imtiaz Patel, whose company has made it clear that it is willing to accommodate the SABC as per the contract with the PSL, could not be reached for comment.

Kaizer Kganyago, SABC Group spokesman, said: "We requested a meeting with the PSL executive committee around the issue of broadcast rights.

"Our CEO [Mpofu] is away to sign a deal for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games as well as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games but will be back tomorrow [today].

"The package is not an issue, what we are interested in doing now is to get back to the negotiating table and resolve this matter.

"It won't help us [PSL and SABC] in anyway to be counter-blaming each other in the media. The matter will be dealt with on Monday.

"We as the SABC are committed to resolving the matter," said Kganyago.

He denied reports that SABC paid $40 million (about R288,2 million) for English Premiership rights.

"That is not true, we paid far less. The problem is that the agreement clearly states that the figures should not be made public.

"We secured the rights to show English Premiership matches on Mondays, we will also be showing the highlights of the Premiership games."

This is despite the SABC's earlier criticism of the televising of English Premiership games in South Africa .

Regarding complaints that SABC were not showing many games in the week, including on Fridays, Kganyago said: "SABC does not have a channel dedicated to sports.

"The other problem is that we only televise the games as per the contract. It is wrong for people to overgeneralise that they want to see soccer every day."

Regional football is also not given much consideration.

Ashford "Dumba" Mamelodi, Cosafa general secretary, said they wanted to see more regular coverage of southern African football.

l ramatsiyi@sowetan.co.za