Botswana: Multichoice Wins Appeal


The Court of Appeal has held that Multi Choice Botswana was not a broadcaster in Botswana but only enabled subscribers to receive broadcasts. Multi Choice Botswana, is a company associated with Multi Choice Africa, a South Africa-based company that provides the DStv subscription television service to subscribers in Botswana and elsewhere in Africa.

The wrangle between Multi Choice Botswana and the National Broadcasting Board (NBB) followed the granting of a broadcasting licence by the board in October 21, 2005. However, the High Court subsequently set aside the board's decision on the basis that the Broadcasting Act has not kept pace with advances in technology.

Dismissing NBB's appeal with costs the Court Of Appeal noted that it seemed that some line has to be drawn between putting together the package of material to be broadcast and making and transmitting the signal and making or participating in the arrangements which enabled a person to receive the signal.

Citing an example, the Court of Appeal stated that the provision of satellite dishes and decoders would not fall within the definition of broadcasting.

Defining broadcasting within the context of the Broadcasting Act, the Court of Appeal said it is the action of transmitting a signal by various means identified in the definition while distribution referred to distribution by means of terrestrial, cable, satellite or optical fibre.
(The Voice (Francistown), 7 August 2007)