On Monday (27 May), Multichoice filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court asking for a suspension to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa) inquiry into the pay-TV market in South Africa.
According to The Star – which has seen Multichoice’s founding affidavit – the company is accusing Icasa of not understanding the broadcast terrain. and of rushing to throw in changes that will ‘put the pay TV operator out of business’ in favour of international players.
In an emailed statement to BusinessTech, Multichoice confirmed that it has logged an urgent application to compel Icasa to provide all the information, evidence and research that underpins its draft findings published on 12 April 2019.
This information will provide all stakeholders, including MultiChoice, with a full understanding of Icasa’s rationale and enable them to provide meaningful and substantive responses, it said.
“We continue to constructively engage in the regulatory process and see this request as a necessary first step towards ensuring meaningful engagement,” said MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela.
“Once we have concluded a review of all the relevant information, we will be in a position to prepare a comprehensive response that demonstrates our belief in a regulatory framework that’s fair, balanced and evidence based,” he said.
In April, Icasa published the draft findings of its inquiry into South Africa’s subscription television broadcasting services.
Despite the popularity of new entrants such as Netflix, Icasa found that DStv was still the dominant player in the market.
As a result of this dominance, Icasa said it is proposing various license conditions to address market failure.
These would include:
- Reducing contract duration – this would include reducing long-term contracts and prohibit automatic contract renewal;
- Rights splitting – Icasa said rights-owners must split their content rights and sell them to more than one broadcaster. This would stop broadcasters like DStv having éxclusive’rights to certain programmes;
- Unbundling – Icasa said sports rights should be unbundled;
- Limiting access to the number of Hollywood movie studios – Icasa said that it will limit the number of Hollywood studios that a broadcaster may enter into exclusive agreements with for the purposes of distributing.