South Africa wants open pay-TV

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South Africa’s media regulator Icasa says that despite objections from dominant incumbent pay-TV operator MultiChoice, it will open up the pay-TV market in the country.

Icasa held hearings during May into the nation’s pay-TV services, and ICASA is known to want to ease the entry of rival operators to MultiChoice.

Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka says the regulator was analysing the various submissions made. “We will subsequently publish the draft findings document for further consultation. The plan is to publish the final findings document by March 2019,” he said.

MultiChoice, in its presentation to Icasa, was blunt, saying that it had already lost 100,000 paying subscribers to its DStv Premium tier, because of shifts to unregulated OTT streaming rivals. MultiChoice said these streaming services paid no local tax or licensing fees. The broadcaster added that opening up the market and with new Icasa regulations such as shorter exclusivity periods on sports rights would virtually destroy its business.

Icasa has already opened up the market, and issued an overall 10 licences to rivals to MultiChoice including Close-T Broadcast Network, Mindset Media Enterprises, Mobile TV, Kagiso TV and Siyaya Free To Air, e.Sat, e.tv’s sister company, Walking on Water, Telkom Media, and the then TopTV, now known as StarSat.

Only TopTV launched a fully–competitive suite of channels, but faced headwinds and eventually applied for business rescue and the local version of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


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