SABC failing dismally on its mandate

For decades millions had depended on radio for the broadcast of Bafana Bafana and PSL matches.
For decades millions had depended on radio for the broadcast of Bafana Bafana and PSL matches.
Image: Raymond Preston

It would seem few people realise just how crucial live radio broadcasts of soccer matches are for all - rich or poor - in this country or any other country for that matter.

I was moved to write this piece by someone who after last week's revelations that the SABC has failed to reach an agreement with the PSL to broadcast matches live - on radio - had the audacity to take this grave situation lightly, saying they will "watch on TV".

They had the nerve to be frivolous about the matter to an extent that their dogmatism brainwashed them to believe every soccer follower in this country has access to a TV, a laptop, a mobile phone and or access to an App for live streaming.

The blackout of the opening of the PSL season last weekend was due to cash flow problems at the SABC, we are told and must believe it.

The tug-of-war between the SABC and the PSL pertaining to the radio broadcasting of football matches is said to stem from the fact that the national broadcaster was broke and had pushed for the PSL to carry production costs amounting to more than R40m a year in order for them to continue with the broadcasts.

Although the SABC has the rights - for free - they were struggling to carry the production costs, which is their side of the bargain, in order to honour the trade exchange agreement.

In retaliation, the PSL blocked the SABC from airing the new season's PSL matches on radio, citing the broadcaster's failure to adhere to the production and airing agreements of the contract.

From where I stand, it's the public broadcaster's duty to carry out its mandate.

It would seem it is failing, judging by the botching of its contractual obligations, leading to those heading the organisation appearing to be inefficient, deficient and inept.

It came as a rude awakening once again when it was announced midweek that Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana matches would not be broadcast by the SABC due to a monetary dispute.

I had thought we've long put the Hlaudi Motsoeneng era behind us. I thought the new top brass was fastidious in carrying out their duties, going through every contract with precision.

Back to the idiot who boasted about not caring a hoot about the radio blackout, it was clear they were inconsiderate to the plight of the poorest of the poor in rural and township areas, whose only source of information and news is radio.

I did put myself in the shoes of those with no access to TV or mobile devices. I find myself in the same situation when driving while a soccer match is on - live. I have no alternative but to listen to the audio broadcast over the radio.

The victims in this and the pending debacle involving the South African Football Association, the national team and the SABC, are the millions of rural and township soccer fanatics dependant on the SABC for live soccer broadcasts.

And in a nick of time the stakeholders reached an agreement but the PSL opening weekend mini-blackout should have been avoided.

It was uncalled for, showed laxity and a total disregard of South Africans by the decision makers at the SABC.

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