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PSL returns to SABC’s screens with fresh SuperSport deal

South African public-service broadcaster SABC has resumed coverage of the country’s Premier Soccer League after agreeing terms on a new sublicensing agreement with pay-television broadcaster SuperSport.

The 2019-20 PSL season kicked off earlier this month without coverage on SABC after the broadcaster failed to meet SuperSport’s R56m (€3.3m/$3.7m) per season asking price for a sublicensing contract.

SABC, which has been in the midst of a financial crisis, had turned to the country’s regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), in an effort to end the impasse and a new five-season deal was announced on Friday.

Covering the seasons spanning 2019-20 to 2023-24, the two parties said the agreement recognises the need to maintain the financial sustainability of the PSL, as well as ensuring that the SABC delivers on its public mandate of serving the interests of South Africans in regards to sports.

The SABC’s group chief executive, Madoda Mxakwe, said: “Most importantly, this commercially viable deal is aligned to the goal of having a financially sustainable public broadcaster. The SABC will continue to discharge its public mandate in a manner which is not only sustainable for the organisation, but ensures that the South African public have access to sports of national interest such as the PSL.”

Calvo Mawela, chief executive of SuperSport’s parent company MultiChoice Group, added: “We remain committed to the long-term investment in sports in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

“In the previous financial year MCG invested over R2.3bn in sports on the continent. An important element of the investment is in sports broadcasting and sponsorship rights, which provide critical revenue streams for sports bodies that filter down to every tier and has an undeniable impact on the development of sport.”

Craig van Rooyen, SABC’s acting chief operations officer, warned earlier this month that the broadcaster incurred losses of R550m in broadcasting sport in the past financial year, a trend that he said could not continue.

He remarked: “As a company, we fall under the Companies Act and the board has passed a resolution that the SABC should not incur any further shortfalls, following overall losses, which ran into R1.3bn, over the last five years. No responsible executive will want to be party to loss-making.”

Van Rooyen subsequently resigned, citing personal reasons.