|The UDM has noted the uproar about the
broadcasting rights of PSL soccer, where the PSL is being portrayed as an appendage of the
SABC or Government. This seems to be the position of the spokespersons for the SABC
(including the Board Chairperson) and reportedly the Minister of Sport, all of whom having
condemned the broadcasting deal between the PSL and Supersport.
The public should understand that we are dealing with two separate entities here; a state-funded broadcaster and a private institution, which have their own mandate from their constituency for developing and promoting soccer in this country. We are aware that this matter started as early as 16 October 2006 when the PSL notified the SABC in writing of their request to renegotiate the broadcasting rights in terms of the existing agreement between the two parties. That process led to a dispute and even went to the High Court; the judge made it clear that if the arbitration between the SABC and the PSL was not completed by 25 May 2007, then the SABC interdict preventing the PSL from negotiating with other broadcasters would fall away. We are also aware that the arbitration took place on 17 and 18 May 2007; indeed, the arbitrator dismissed the original Statement of Claim of the SABC. And we are also informed that the SABC filed a new application to the arbitrator to change their Statement of Claim. As late as 28 May 2007, the arbitrator was still busy with the matter, and even at this late the public does not know what the arbitrator's position is. Legally speaking the SABC seems to have no case, if they failed to comply with their own court order. The arbitrator also seems to be in breach of that court order, since even weeks later there is still no indication that the arbitrator is wrapping up the matter.
It thus means that legally after 25 May 2007 the PSL was free to negotiate broadcasting rights with whomever they wanted. The PSL is getting four times more for the broadcasting rights than what SABC offered; you don't need to be a mathematician to understand that such a huge injection of funding into soccer will improve development initiatives immensely.
It is also becoming clear that the SABC had ample opportunity to improve their offer, and they failed. It smacks of arrogance, because apparently the SABC negotiated from a position of entitlement believing that they would get the broadcasting rights no matter what they offered. Their arrogance and delaying tactics have actually cost them and their viewers. It is a feeble excuse to now politicise the matter and talk about the poor, whilst they are currently paying for broadcasting rights from Supersport for cricket, rugby and international soccer. Why can't they do the same right now for soccer? The PSL is not a charity organisation, it is a business entity, if the leadership of the PSL runs out of money to pay clubs, they can't run to the Minister of Finance like a spoilt child begging for a bail-out, whereas the SABC is in the red and knows that they can always plead for more taxpayer money whenever they err.
Government should not to be involved, it would be irresponsible for Ministers - and Parliament - to intervene in this fracas and rescue the SABC from its own mistakes.