Advanced Television “ICASA has failed to regulate market”

August 30, 2022

By Chris Forrester

Independent South African broadcaster is accusing the nation’s regulator ICASA of permitting the State-owned transmission company Sentech to abuse it monopoly.

The row emerged during a public meeting organised by ICASA and where e-tv’s and eMedia executives severely criticised the ICASA regulator of ignoring for the past 12 years to correctly manage the situation and permitting what eMedia said were “rip off” prices levied by Sentech.

“Sentech’s absurd submission that [ICASA’s] discussion document should be withdrawn (and already made in submissions ahead of the meeting) would enable Sentech to continue acting anticompetitively and must be rejected,” CEO Khalik Sherrif told the meeting.

Sherrif argued that ICASA had continually failed to support independent free-to-air broadcasters, and had done nothing to resolve eMedia’s complaints.

“It is frustrating and time consuming that, once again, we have to appear before you in relation to a matter which started in 2010 and ought to have been finalised many years ago. Without reason, ICASA has repeatedly failed to investigate or regulate a market which is in dire need of regulation. It has accordingly shirked its duties and preferred once licensee over another,” Sherrif said.

“It is 12 years since ICASA started investigating the signal distribution market. Yet, here we are again, answering the same questions and dealing with the same issues we dealt with 12 years ago,” he added.

Sherrif argued that ICASA must “fully investigate the secretive and non-transparent prices Sentech is able to charge given its dominant position”. It should also undertake an international benchmarking exercise to “assess the reasonableness of South African’s signal distribution costs and the way they are calculated in the digital era”.

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