Dr Irvin Khoza: The PSL would collapse should Icasa amend broadcasting rights

Khoza said the PSL will oppose the proposed amendments suggested by Icasa for the football rights to be free in South Africa

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has vowed to challenge the proposed free-to-air regulations which were set out by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) in December 2018. 

According to Icasa, sports broadcast rights should be made available to free-to-air channels instead of the subscription.

However, chairman Dr Irvin Khoza said should the proposed amendments come into law, the PSL would collapse. 

Khoza went further to say the PSL board of governors resolved to take Icasa head on should it amend the broadcast rights while threatening to even shut down the league should they fail to win this battle. 

"Icasa claims to be making these amendments in the public interest to prohibit subscription broadcasting services from acquiring exclusive rights that prevent or hinder free-to-air broadcasting of any national sporting event as identified as a public interest," Khoza told the media in Kempton Park.

"It is important to note that the PSL has self-regulated on this issue for a long time. The most followed match on its fixtures‚ the Soweto Derby‚ is available to free-to-air irrespective of who owns the broadcast rights. The cup finals and the semifinals are also available," argued Khoza.  

"To take the limited exclusivity from the broadcast rights owner will devalue the broadcast rights to the effect that the PSL will not be able to afford to stage the events where it creates the content that the broadcaster currently buys," he continued.

"It is also worth noting that PSL peers around the world are dependant on pay (per view) Television. The [PSL] board of governors have decided to make this public. It is important to let you know that we approached all political parties last year to provide them with an understanding of our business," he indicated. 

"I think we are dealing with exclusion here. If Icasa contemplates the changes that we face without consulting us and understanding our industry and the consequences and risks that we will face‚ it is a form of exclusion. I sincerely hope that this is an error rather than for the purpose of subjugation," added Khoza. 

"I doubt any reasonable South African with the knowledge of our industry would support the cutting off of our funding lifeline particularly when we grow our industry within constraints set by the very regulator which is now proposing to act like this," Khoza said. 

"We did not break the law. Everything we did was within the framework. We did the work necessary. The broadcast deal has had an enormous impact on the state of South African football and without it, the PSL dies. Without adequate funding, this industry as we know, it will collapse and will be back to what it was back in the 1980s. This will cripple our revenue by 80 per cent and clubs will have to cut support staff to the bone and our grant of R11 million to Safa will no longer be available," he said. 

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"We will defend ourselves rigorously. We will exhaust all options available to us. If it is not resolved, we will shut down the PSL," vowed the PSL boss.

Icasa has since extended the deadline for submission to March this year to allow all the relevant stakeholders and federations to put forward their arguments before making a final decision. 

The PSL and the South African Rugby Union (Saru) are the only two stakeholders who have so far expressed their dissatisfaction over Icasa's proposed amendments for sports broadcast rights.