ICASA To Make More Room For pay-TV Operators In South Africa

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has announced that says that it would give ease of access to players into the pay-TV market in the country despite objections from the dominant cum leading pay-tv firm MultiChoice.

The national communications regulator which held hearings that probed the nation’s pay-TV services during May inquired into subscription television broadcasting services to determine whether there are competition issues in the sector. The actions following the hearings will be to regulate SA’s telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, which would promote healthy competition.

The spokesman for ICASA, Paseka Maleka says the regulator was analysing the various submissions that were made by various media firms and would publish the final findings document by March 2019.

In its submission of about 600 pages to ICASA, MultiChoice, was direct, saying that it had already lost over 100,000 premium subscribers to its DStv Premium package, because of the effects that unregulated streaming rivals like Netflix are causing. MultiChoice argued that these streaming services do not pay local tax, licensing fees nor contribute levies. The Naspers owned firm added that opening up the market alongside new regulations by ICASA such as shorter exclusivity periods on sports rights would crumple its business.

In its discussion document, the nation's regulatory body promoting a healthy platform for players to compete would mean shortening exclusive contract periods. It said while the South African market may be different from the European market, it may be useful for SA to consider possible lessons from the European Commission which considers contracts that were longer than five years to be problematic.

ICASA, serious about its declaration has made the moves and has already opened up the market, by issuing 10 licences to other players to help build healthy competition. Some of the licensees include; Mindset Media Enterprises,  Close-T Broadcast Network, Mobile TV,  former TopTV, rebranded as StarSat, Kagiso TV and Siyaya Free To Air, e.Sat,’s sister company, Walking on Water, and Telkom Media.

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