Advanced Television

South Africa to investigate pay-TV market

June 27, 2016

By Colin Mann

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has launched an inquiry into the subscription television broadcasting services market.

The purpose of the inquiry is to, among others, define the relevant wholesale and retail markets or market segments in the subscription television broadcasting, taking into account the relationship, if any, and the impact from adjacent markets (i.e. Free-to-air broadcasting services, new technologies, and so on); and to determine whether there is effective competition in those relevant markets and market segments.

The Authority has observed the failure of new market entrants to commence with licensed activities in this market and noted that only two subscription broadcasters operate despite several having been licensed.

This highlights concerns of competition in the subscription television broadcasting market which appears not to be functioning effectively.

Councillor Katharina Pillay said the inquiry was intended to address concerns raised by industry stakeholders as well as for the Authority to determine why, despite multiple attempts to introduce competition in the subscription broadcasting market, only two licensees have been able to launch services and the two entrants have been plagued with sustainability challenges and the others yet not begun operations.

“It is important for the Authority to understand the challenges faced by new market entrants so that it can address the regulatory impediments where required, and create an enabling environment for the introduction of competition,” she told local media.

“The Digital Terrestrial TV environment will create new opportunities for market entry. However, the opportunities can only be exploited in a market that enables competition,” she said, noting that the Electronic Communications Act (the ECA) sets out a process for the Authority to follow in investigating the effectiveness of competition in identified markets, should this enquiry indicate an intervention of such nature is required.

Key milestones in the Inquiry include:

  • Gather information through stakeholder questionnaires, meetings and written submissions which will provide a snapshot of the market;
  • Publication of a discussion document for public comment;
  • Publication of a findings document.

The information gathering process will begin during the week of June 27 with the distribution of questionnaires. The Authority anticipates that a Discussion Document resulting from the initial consultation process will be published before the end of the second quarter of this financial year and that the inquiry process and if necessary, the section 67 (the ability to impose pro-competitive conditions) process, will be completed within this financial year barring delays resulting from stakeholder consultations.

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