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South Africa DTH licence decision

South Africa’s ICASA regulator is expected to make a decision before the end of this month on whether struggling On Digital Media (which operated as TopTV) can transfer its broadcasting licences to a new DTH operator.

Chinese-controlled StarTimes Group is already – in effect – transmitting the channels for ODM/TopTV which entered bankruptcy protection in 2013.

However, there remain arguments between former shareholders in ODM and there’s an outstanding case in South Africa’s High Court, with at least two stakeholders demanding clarification on how much StarTimes actually paid for the assets, and whether StarTimes kept its part of the bargain when it promised to invest up to $100 million on new programming and channels for South Africa subscribers.

First National Media Investment Holdings (FNMIH) has called on ICASA not to transfer the network licence until the shares dispute is resolved. In a letter to ICASA, FNMIH states that in October 2013 it entered into an agreement with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) whereby the IDC would acquire all shareholder shares in FNMIH at a “fair market value to be determined by an independent auditor”.

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