Competition Commission hears case against SABC-MultiChoice deal
The ongoing legal battle between Multichoice and media group Caxton along with lobby group Save Our SABC Coalition (SOS) and Media Monitoring Africa was heard in the Competitions Commission for review last week.
It was argued before the Competition Commission, on 30 September, that the controversial content channel licensing agreement between MultiChoice and the SABC should be considered as a merger.
The group argued that the deal removed the SABC as a competitor and gave MultiChoice an advantage over competitors like StarSat and e.tv.
Three years ago, MultiChoice and the SABC signed a five-year deal valued at R533 million. The deal gives MultiChoice the right to air two of the public broadcaster’s channels, one a 24-hour news channel, and the other, an entertainment channel called SABC Encore, which pulls popular shows from the public broadcaster’s archives.
The agreement, which is already two years into its five-year duration, also allows for financial support for the digitisation of the SABC archived content to assist the public broadcaster’s digital terrestrial television (DTT) migration.
On 22 April, SABC Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and his team presented the SABC’s strategic plan and budget for the new financial year. Where Parliament heard how the SABC was losing viewers and advertisers.
When Motsoeneng and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi were asked at this meeting, “What about this Multichoice deal? What’s happening there?”, Motsoeneng explained that the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) referred a complaint about the deal to the Competition Commission in 2014. This was then withdrawn in November 2014 on the basis of insufficient and therefore misleading information.
The Competition Commission has refrained from filing any arguments pending further investigation.
The tribunal will announce its ruling in due course.