Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
LOCAL company Dr Dish have dangled a $3.5 million bid to the domestic Premier Soccer League (PSL) to acquire the top-flight league’s media visual broadcasting rights from this year, in a ground-breaking marriage which should initially run for a period of five years. If Dr Dish’s proposal is accepted by thePSL leadership, who ended their five-year partnership with SuperSport two months ago amid concerns by some of their constituency they were not getting full value for their product, the league will receive $750 000 every year for the rights.
However, Dr Dish’s proposal leaves a window for a possible increase in the money which they will pour into PSL should the partnership prove to be a success story, with authoritative sources telling The Herald yesterday that the company submitted their bid before the February 7 deadline.
Dr Dish went into bed with Econet Media in a partnership in which Kwese TV made their entrance into the Zimbabwean market, but the deal between the two parties quickly went sour and they cut the ties that had bound them.
Recently, Ktulu Nominees (Pvt) Ltd, a Zimbabwean investment group representing the private family interests of prominent lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa, snapped 50 percent stake in Dr Dish with the lawyer, who is the founder of Titan Law firm which has been sponsoring Zimbabwean rugby, becoming the largest single shareholder in the company.
Dr Dish say they are in the process of recruiting installers for the roll out of a countrywide distribution network and they could be providing, at least, 40 entertainment channels, on their bouquet, which is likely to have about 110 channels, including the domestic Premiership.
‘’The leadership at Dr Dish believe interest in Zimbabwean football is very high throughout the country with thousands, if not millions, of people following what happens at our stadiums every weekend with religious interest,’’ the sources said.
‘’They believe, if well-packaged, and with a lot of matches being covered, there is a market out there that has an appetite for content that is generated from the local Premier League and which a lot of people want to see on their televisions at home, in the bars or in the offices.
‘’Of course, the decision rests with the PSL leaders and let’s see how it pans out but clearly this is far more money, which has been put on the table, than what the PSL were getting from their previous deal with SuperSport.’’
No comment could be obtained late yesterday from either Dr Dish’s chief executive Nyasha Muzavazi or the PSL whose chief executive Kenny Ndebele has maintained they will never discuss issues related to the tender they flighted for the media audio and visual broadcasting rights until the issue has been finalised.
Muzavazi announced recently that their transaction with Ktulu Nominees, which gave the later the single biggest chunk of shareholding in the company, would bring in the capital they need to launch their products and services related to satellite broadcasting in the country and across sub-Saharan Africa once they sort out the necessary regulatory requirements as demanded by the Broadcasting Services Act.
Winds of change appear to be blowing across the African landscape, in terms of these football media visual broadcasting rights, after the Ugandan football authorities plunged into unchartered territory recently by signing a deal with a rookie indigenous player to take over the rights for the game in that country.
The Ugandans looked beyond Azam Television, who have been the sole broadcaster of the country’s Premier League and whose contract ends on May 31, to go into bed with new local players, Sports Broadcasting, in a four-year marriage.
The deal is worth $3m over four years and the Uganda Premier League will get $600 000 per season while the other money will be injected into the Big League ($80 000) and the Uganda Cup ($70 000).
The Azam Television deal, which was for three-and-half years, was worth $1.9 million.
Sports Broadcasting will be the fourth television entity, after GTV, SuperSport and Azam TV, to acquire the television rights to broadcast the Ugandan league when they take over from June this year.
With GTV being a British company, SuperSport based in South Africa and Azam TV being a Tanzanian firm, Sports Broadcasting will be the first Ugandan firm to enter into partnership with Ugandan football.
Azam TV are believed to have offered $2 million to extend their deal with the Ugandans but Sports Broadcasting upped their successful bid to $3 million.
The deal will see all the 240 Ugandan Premier League matches being broadcast, either as live or delayed, throughout the course of the season.
The company’s executives, who have a Dutch partner, have promised to introduce a sports-only television channel in Uganda.
Sports Broadcasting is owned by Ugandan businessmen, Brutus Kagingo and Warren Namara, while Dennis Mbidde is the chief executive.
‘’It is anticipated that in the years to come, this innovation will change the way Ugandans view and consume not just football but Ugandan sport in general,’’ the Federation of Uganda Football Association president Moses Magogo said.
“Using the lessons from the previous failed attempt to professionalise club football, FUFA has constructed solid governance for club football and enforced the club licensing.
“Combined with the education of the technical and administrative human resource, professionalism is being entrenched at all levels. This has given birth to commercialisation which will yield more resources for the betterment of our game. What we are witnessing today is a new dawn and the beginning of an avalanche of sponsors to football.”