State must end soccer impasse

PSL
PSL

The Pontius Pilate-like approach so far adopted by government in relations to the PSL soccer broadcast rights does not seem to be yielding any meaningful results.

We have entered the second round of league games and, yet still, there is no solution to the dispute that has resulted in the SABC - which is watched by the majority of people in South Africa - being forbidden from flighting matches.

Instead of a solution, the situation has become worse with Sunday Times reporting that the public broadcaster has informed its 18 radio stations that they cannot broadcast anything related to PSL football, not even match scores.

This means that popular sports shows, such as Robert Marawa's Marawa Sports Worldwide, are not permitted to cover stories, have interviews or promotions related to the local version of the beautiful game. The SABC says it took the decision in light of there being no existing deal between itself and the league in relation to radio broadcast rights.

It all smacks of brinkmanship to us, from both sides - the PSL and the SABC. And both parties are set to suffer as a result. The SABC would have no attractive sports content, losing viewers and listeners, and therefore lose out on potential advertising revenue.

The league would not have radio, one of the most popular mediums for soccer lovers, to promote its games. Both parties need each other and the sooner a compromise is found the better. After all, local football would not be what it is today were it not for SABC radio which supported the sport long before the likes of MultiChoice even came into being.

But with money seemingly the main sticking point between all the parties involved, such a compromise would not happen without a firm government. So far our ministers and government have been commenting on the issue as if they have no power, and that the conflict was merely a commercial disagreement that can only be resolved by the parties.

The truth of the matter is that we are where we are because of state policies that allowed for the development of monopolies that effectively set their own rules. It is time the government took a firmer stance that would force both the PSL and SABC back to the table for radio rights and the public broadcaster and MultiChoice to resolve a TV rights impasse.

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