Broadcast Regulation

Legal Battle Looms Between ICASA And MultiChoice -Reports

A legal battle is brewing between the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) and the pay-TV giant MultiChoice as the regulator forges ahead with its plans to open up the market.

On April 12, ICASA revealed its draft findings from an inquiry into pay-TV broadcasting services. The findings highlighted suggestions to boost competition and decrease subscription prices in the pay-TV market.

Included in the recommendations were ideas around reducing contract duration for sports rights, sharing content rights with more than one broadcaster, and decreasing the number of Hollywood studios that MultiChoice may hold exclusive deals with.

MultiChoice has retaliated to ICASA by taking the regulator to court over this inquiry and its findings. In court papers filed at Pretoria’s High Court, MultiChoice argues that ICASA did not follow the correct process and that some of the proposed measures threaten the pay-TV operator’s commercial viability.

MultiChoice requested that the courts order ICASA to pause the inquiry process, until after the submission of all necessary documents or evidence that the regulator had relied on to make its findings and conclusions. MultiChoice added that ICASA’s failure to submit the documentation is unlawful and unconstitutional.

The pay-TV operator also demands that interested parties be given a minimum of 60 days to make their representations on the draft findings after ICASA has brought forward all relevant documentation.

ICASA’s spokesperson, Paseka Maleka, confirmed yesterday that the regulator had received MultiChoice’s court application, and was busy analysing the documents. Maleka said that the submission would be made to council to make a decision on the court application.

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