The SABC wants popular soccer games reserved for free-to-air broadcasters, while the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is against this, arguing it needs to bring in money to develop the game, writes Jocelyn Newmarch in Business Day.

The two organisations made oral presentations to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) yesterday, which is considering proposed new regulations on sports rights, which would govern the broadcasting of national sporting events which are seen as in the national interest.

Gab Mampone, acting group CEO of the SABC, said the public broadcaster reached large audiences and asked Icasa to take the SABC’s unique public service mandate into account.

The SABC argued for the inclusion of the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup as an event of national interest, which was watched by 880000 viewers for the tournament in 2007 on SABC 3.

It argued for certain Absa Premiership, Absa Currie Cup and Vodacom Super 14 matches to be listed as being of national interest, especially the Absa Premiership’s derbies, which attract millions of viewers.

The SABC also wants two quarterfinals and one semifinal match of domestic competitions, in all national sports, to be listed as being in the national interest, in addition to the final match of events already listed — and reserved for free broadcasters.

The South African Football Association (Safa) and the PSL made a joint presentation, arguing against the SABC.

Irvin Khoza, vice-president of Safa and chairman of the PSL, said the effects of listing commercial soccer games as being of national interest would be disastrous.

He said Bafana Bafana’s matches are listed as in the national interest, and so the value of the broadcast rights was minimal as the SABC held these rights exclusively. The cost of staging the games far outweighed the money the SABC paid for the rights.

The cost to Safa of staging Bafana Bafana matches is between R6,5m and R7m. The SABC previously paid R1m a game to Safa, and now pays R2m, but also charges up to R950 000 for production costs, leaving Safa with a huge loss.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.