SACP calls on the PSL to allow the SABC to broadcast all its matches on radio while negotiations continue, and for government to intervene.
The South African Communist Party has noted the unresolved dispute between the Premier Soccer League and the South African Broadcasting Corporation with deep concern. The poor will literally be excluded if the decision, imposed by the PSL, for the SABC not to broadcast PSL matches on radio prevails. The SACP is calling on the PSL to allow the SABC to broadcast all its matches on radio while contractual negotiations on the broadcasting rights continue. Broadcasting the matches on radio will also benefit workers who are on duty, motorists and others who depend on radio for access to the matches.
The SABC is a public broadcaster. It is therefore crucial for the negotiations to take into account the total broadcasting, including production costs versus the SABC's public funding and revenue. Instead of a situation where the SABC will bleed financially, the negotiations should strengthen public broadcasting. To this end, the SABC should be in a position to contribute to the necessary revenue that it needs in order to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate and to deepen the development of public broadcasting. In other words, the negotiations should produce a mutually beneficial agreement rather squeeze or ruin the SABC and strengthen private interests.
In particular, the SACP is deeply concerned about the underpinning problem - the commodification of sports. While sports is a public interest activity, it is a fact that there are private interests involved. These are not limited to the private franchises, brands and enterprises which constitute sports leagues. The advertising sold and branded at stadiums is for example literally broadcast for free on television by the public broadcaster. This is one of the areas that need urgent attention and scrutiny.
The SACP is calling on government to intervene. This should include a review of the public broadcasting funding model. The SABC must be adequately resourced. Further, legislative and regulatory review is needed to promote public broadcasting of sports and other cultural and artistic activities to the best of public interest. The SACP will raise this matters with its Alliance partners at the next Alliance Political Council session and bilateral engagements, as well as through campaigning.
Last but not least, the importance of prudential management of resources at the SABC is vital. The history of corporate capture, governance decay, mismanagement and looting at the public broadcaster must not be forgotten. On the contrary, it must be a source of reference for remaining vigilant at all times!
Statement issued by the SACP, 4 August 2018