No more matches on radio as SABC, PSL deal collapses

Cash problems at the SABC are allegedly at the centre of dispute.
Cash problems at the SABC are allegedly at the centre of dispute.
Image: Kabelo Mokoena

The severe cash crunch at the SABC allegedly led to the collapse of a deal between them and the PSL over radio rights.

It is understood that the broke public broadcaster wanted the PSL to carry production costs amounting to more than R40-million a year in order for them to continue broadcasting the local games.

This demand allegedly formed part of the SABC's new terms during the negotiations for a new contract with the PSL on Thursday.

Despite the public broadcaster having the rights, which are worth R209-million, for free, they were struggling to carry the production costs needed for the implementation of the trade exchange agreement it signed with the PSL in 2012.

Insiders said the PSL felt insulted by the SABC, who tried to sneak in the new conditions two days before the start of the new season of the PSL.

Part of the original deal was that the SABC was expected to offer PSL airtime in the form of promos promoting PSL content on all SABC radio stations.

The agreement, according to an affidavit signed by former SABC head of radio sport Diane Lynne Riemer and dated October 17 2017, was delayed for two years and only started in 2014. The deal was due to run for five years.

Riemer deposed the affidavit in support of Michael Owen Productions, which was currently in a legal dispute with the SABC over nonpayment of R15-million as a service provider that helped the public broadcaster meet their end of the bargain.

The production house, owned by radio personality Owen Ndlovu, delivered on the work for three years until SABC Sport decided to take over the work. However, immediately after taking over, the SABC failed to deliver a single promo, allegedly going against the agreement it had signed with the PSL.

Ndlovu confirmed his company was responsible for the implementation of the trade exchange deal between the SABC and PSL, but claimed he was "bulldozed" off the deal by certain SABC officials.

"After taking over the implementation, the SABC failed to deliver and canned the show because I asked to be paid the R15-million that was owed to me. They have not paid me to this day," he said.

According to Ndlovu, the agreement between his company and the SABC was worth R5-million per year and was to run for five years until he was fired with two more years to go.

After this week's meeting between the SABC and PSL failed to produce results, the professional football body decided to give SABC the boot.

Sunday World has seen a letter sent by PSL acting CEO Mato Madlala to all clubs in the premier league instructing them to not allow SABC radio crew to their games.

The letter, dated August 3, reads in part: "The league has today received a letter from the SABC repudiating its obligations under the Radio Broadcast and Game Promotion agreement. I have written to the SABC calling upon the broadcaster to confirm that it will comply with its obligation under the agreement. Until such time as we receive confirmation from the SABC that they will meet their obligations, the SABC radio cannot be permitted to cover Absa Premiership matches.

"Please ensure that no SABC radio personnel are permitted access to any matches and or allowed to cover matches until such time as the league receives confirmation from the SABC that they will meet their obligations under the agreement."

The SABC then issued a media statement on Friday night announcing that the public broadcaster would no longer broadcast PSL matches on any of its radio stations.

"This decision follows careful consideration to the SABC business operations and the unsuccessful negotiations with the PSL to secure the broadcast rights for soccer matches on radio.

"The SABC and PSL could not reach consensus with regards to the terms of the contract and this has unfortunately led to the SABC not being able to close the deal with PSL," said the statement.

Madlala said she could not confirm or deny details about the meeting between the SABC and PSL.

"If the meeting happened, we will get the briefing on Monday [tomorrow] during the executives meeting. So far I can't confirm or deny because my name was not part of that discussion. All I know is that we do have an agreement signed with them," she said.

Sports Minister Toko Xasa entered the fray and said she will meet the two parties tomorrow.

"Soccer is the sport mostly followed by the poor and the working class in our country, the rural mass, taxi operators and truck drivers who solely depend on radio to follow this beautiful game," said Xasa.

"The decisions they make in boardrooms must never affect the majority of our people negatively. I have full confidence that we will reach a decision that will satisfy the majority of soccer-loving people."

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