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SABC complains over transmission costs

February 9, 2024

By Chris Forrester

South Africa’s public broadcaster, SABC, is taking the country’s transmission operator Sentech to the Competition Tribunal, alleging excessive pricing and anti-competitive actions.

Doris Tshepe, head of the country’s Competition Commission, told MPs that a commission-led effort to mediate between the parties had failed.

The MPs on the country’s Committee on Communications & Digital Technologies heard that the SABC will continue to press its claim that the fees Sentech levies for analogue and digital terrestrial television transmission are excessive.

SABC pays Sentech 20 million Rand per month (€0.98m), but the payments are usually delayed and local reports say that SABC’s debts to Sentech are now “huge”. A year ago SABC owed Sentech 700 million Rand. At the time it was reported that SABC owed Sentech about half its annual revenue.

“The details of the various costs per service and per transmission site have been requested from Sentech with the objective of understanding how the structure of the cost for each service was derived. Sentech has not been cooperative in this regard for the past two years,” the public broadcaster has alleged.

“The SABC is of the view that Sentech’s conduct contravenes […] the Electronic Communications Act, which provides that in determining its tariffs, Sentech must duly take into account the nature and technical parameters of the service provided to each broadcasting licensee with a view to ensuring that the different tariffs are appropriate and commensurate with the various broadcasting services to which they relate,” added SABC.

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