Competition Commission Supports ICASA’s Plans To Open Up SA's Pay-TV Market

18 June 2019

Regulation & Policy

South Africa’s Competition Commission has come out in full support of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)’s plans to introduce various changes to open up the country’s pay-TV market and to make sure that sporting events of national importance are easily accessible to all viewers.

On Friday, ICASA wrapped up its public hearings on proposed regulations which could bring in a new list of sporting tournaments and codes, divided into three different groups according to the level of public interest.

Part of the new proposed regulations highlight the national sporting events that should be broadcast on full live coverage on free-to-air.

This comes just as ICASA’s recent decision to publish draft findings following another inquiry into subscription TV broadcasting services is being challenged in court by pay-TV giant MultiChoice.

The findings highlighted remedies to increase competition and decrease subscription prices in the pay-TV market.

MultiChoice wants the courts to order ICASA to pause the inquiry process pending the submission of all relevant paperwork or evidence that the regulator used to make its draft findings. It said that ICASA’s failure to provide that evidence is unlawful and unconstitutional.

Another remedy would be the unbundling of sports rights, which means offering the broadcast rights to more than one buyer.

The competition commission recommended that broadcasting deals that require exclusivity based on reasonable justifications should now be limited to a period of between three to five years as this would be a sufficient amount of time for a rights holder to profit from its investment, according to the commission.

However, many are in disagreement with ICASA’s plans, including sporting federations.

Last week, the CEO of SA Rugby, Jurie Roux warned that sport would die a slow, painful death in the next five years if ICASA goes ahead with plans to roll out the draft broadcasting regulations.

Source: Business Live