eMedia, MultiChoice head to tribunal
January 18, 2024
By Chris Forrester
eMedia Holdings and South Africa pay-TV giant MultiChoice are again at each other’s throats. The two are due to appeal at a Competition Tribunal in South Africa today [January 18th].
The battle is over TV sports rights with eMedia alleging that MultiChoice is abusing its dominant position and dictating the terms for access to premium sport to other broadcasters.
The dispute has been running for some time and centres on MultiChoice’s refusal to permit rugby and cricket games, which the public broadcaster SABC had secured ancillary rights to cover, but where MultiChoice refused to be allowed on SABC’s free-to-air satellite platform.
eMedia, in its outline of its claim, argues that MultiChoice in acquiring more or less total exclusive broadcasting rights means that it is anti-competitive in that it refuses or sets onerous terms in any sub-licensing deals.
“The tribunal should also take into account that MultiChoice’s conduct is particularly shocking in that it affects not only the public broadcaster and its only meaningful competitor, eMedia, but also has a substantial detrimental impact on members of the public and infringes fundamental constitutional rights in the process,” eMedia says in its Court documents.
MultiChoice, in its response, argued that eMedia “clothes its complaint in ornate competition garb”.
MultiChoice continues: “None of eMedia’s competition law complaints has any basis in law or fact. eMedia’s true grievance is simply a commercial one, namely that the impugned restriction is preventing it from being able to free-ride on SuperSport’s investment in sports rights, and from thereby being able to negate the competitive advantage that MultiChoice Group is entitled to derive from the investments that it has been willing to make in such rights”.