PSL ends SABC radio rights due to court action

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

After losing the Premier Soccer League's exclusive television broadcast rights, the SABC looks set to lose their monopoly over radio broadcasts of football as well.

On Thursday PSL clubs will meet to decide whether radio rights should remain exclusively with the public broadcaster or be made available to others.

This comes after the PSL on Friday terminated the temporary licence given to the SABC for audio broadcast until the two parties reached an agreement.

"We have received offers from commercial and community radio stations for our audio broadcast rights.

The clubs will decide on Thursday how to involve the other interested parties.

"We are strongly considering non-exclusivity to make sure that people do not suffer during our stand-off with the SABC," said PSL chairman Irvin Khoza, pictured, who yesterday met with SABC head of content enterprise, Mvuzo Mbebe, in bilaterals that failed to stave off the radio blackout.

The PSL terminated the temporary audio broadcast licence after the SABC decided to go ahead with arbitration involving the television broadcast rights.

This was against the wishes of Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe- Casaburri.

The SABC lost its television broadcast rights to pay channel Supersport International which bought them for R1,6billion and sublicensed some to the SABC for R120million a year for the next five years.

The arbitration process will take place tomorrow and Wednesday where senior counsel Chris Loxton will rule whether SABC head of sport and former PSL chief executive, Trevor Phillips, had any authority to change existing contracts between the two organisations.

Khoza yesterday confirmed they suspended the radio broadcast licence in reaction to the SABC's refusal to withdraw its arbitration action.

"Obviously the PSL is feeling let down.

"We entered the good faith deal allowing the SABC to televise even more games than they ever did, thinking it will put everything, including the arbitration, behind us.

"Remember, the mandate from the clubs was that there should be no deal with the SABC if they took us to court," he explained.

Khoza said his two-man meeting with Mbebe yesterday was confined to the radio rights negotiations and a follow-up would be held on Wednesday.

"Mbebe made a few proposals and those will be put to the clubs, but he also has to go back for mandate and more consultation.

"He does not sit on the SABC board and there are issues he cannot expand upon," Khoza said.