ZBC Football Blackout Ends

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Zimbabwe’s sole broadcaster, state-run ZBC, has given in to public pressure to end a blackout of Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches on radio and television. The derby between Dynamos and Caps United on Sunday will be the first match to be televised live by Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) this season. Other league fixtures this weekend will be broadcast on two of ZBC's radio stations.

PSL chairman Tapiwa Matangaidze had insisted that the cash-strapped ZBC pay reasonable royalties for the top-flight matches it covered live. It could not be established whether or not ZBC and the PSL had agreed on a revenue deal. However, ZBC TV acting general manager Robson Mhandu said the state broadcaster had decided to bring back the live coverage of top-flight football due to public demand.

"We recognise that soccer is the country's most popular sport and the great demand there is from the viewing and listening public to be able to see and listen to Premier Soccer League have decided that as from this Sunday we will bring our viewers and listeners the most popular sport worldwide and that it is our responsibility as the nation's sole broadcaster to broadcast live coverage of the world's favourite game," Mhandu said.

In March ZBC botched a Z$1.5 billion deal to broadcast live the ICC Cricket World Cup in West Indies. The state broadcaster could not afford the rights to screen the action from the Caribbean until Zimbabwe Cricket came to the rescue by entering a deal with the SABC. After Zimbabwe Cricket paid SABC Z$1.5 billion, ZTV only had to adjust its satellite to receive the signal. However, ZTV failed to part with Z$1 million for a technician to tune their satellite dish in order to receive the signal from SABC.

(Zimbabwe Independent (Harare), 20 July 2007)