Icasa, PSL must talk

PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza.
PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

The looming battle between the Premier Soccer League and the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) over mooted changes to broadcast legislation should be seen as necessary as we ponder who really gets to access domestic football on TV.

We have for some time highlighted the need for the PSL to accommodate the SABC in the scheduling of some matches, especially the big ones.

We noted how, on certain weekends, matches involving the country's biggest teams would be exclusively shown on pay channel SuperSport, with the SABC getting insignificant ones.

We understand that as rights-holders who pay the PSL hundreds of millions, SuperSport gets to call the shots. But barring many viewers from seeing their favourite teams can not be the way to go.

Icasa, by proposing that PSL matches be declared of "national interest" in its proposal, is trying to ensure the game is accessible to the masses.

But while we understand the regulator's point, it should also be viewed with caution given that the TV deal the PSL signed with MultiChoice more than a decade ago was a serious game-changer. It enabled teams to pay more salaries to players, and grew TV audiences, with improved production.

Icasa cannot overlook that. The regulator should be asking the PSL to find a way of including the masses in the TV deal it has with SuperSport, without threatening to "shut down" the league, as PSL chair Irvin Khoza put it this week.

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