Broadcast Regulation

ICASA Considers Additional Investigation Into MultiChoice Over Alleged 'Illegal' Payments

The leadership of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has announced it is still considering a probe into MultiChoice about allegedly inappropriate payments made to SABC and the Gupta-linked ANN7.

This payment was allegedly in exchange for political influence over government policy on digital migration, in the pay-TV operator’s favour.

A copy of minutes of the meeting held between the pay-TV operator and SABC representatives in 2013, surfaced in 2017. The document suggests that the MultiChoice would proceed with a multimillion-rand deal that will include the SABC 24-hour news channel on the DStv bouquet, on the condition that the government supported the non-encryption of set-top boxes.

Executives from ICASA, appeared before South Africa Parliament’s communications portfolio committee to discuss the regulator’s annual performance plan and announced to they might be revisiting the Multichoice question.

In February 2018, ICASA sent a letter to MultiChoice, requesting its response to the allegation to which they responded by objecting to the process with an argument that the complaint by the DA was erroneous.

However, ICASA in response stated that the offer to view the alleged documents in MultiChoice’s was unacceptable and that the regulator was entitled in law to proceed with the process it was undertaking.

The authority will hold public hearings concerning the received applications by September 30, and a final decision on the licensing process is expected by March 31, 2019.


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