Netflix should be BEE compliant to operate in South Africa – MultiChoice

MultiChoice wants Netflix to pay taxes in South Africa, employ local employees, and abide by local Black Economic Empowerment rules.

This is according to general manager of corporate affairs at MultiChoice South Africa Jackie Rakitla, who was answering questions about comments made by MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela.

Mawela recently called on the ICASA to regulate streaming services like Netflix in the country.

The latest statement also comes after Sasfin Securities deputy chairman David Shapiro dismissed calls from MultiChoice to impose stricter regulations on Netflix in South Africa.

Speaking on Business Day TV, Shapiro said Netflix is “simply progress”, and that after you have used Netflix, there is “no way that you are ever going to go back to DStv”.

“DStv, your time is up,” said Shapiro.

Business Day TV show host Giulietta Talevi added that MultiChoice had a 30-year monopoly in South Africa, and that companies need to “innovate or die”.

Unfair advantage

The renewed calls for more regulation on Netflix and the subsequent counter-calls come after Mawela stated that Netflix currently has an unfair advantage in South Africa.

He stated that while Netflix has access to the local market, it does not pay local taxes or follow the same regulations as broadcasters like DStv.

“He was referring to the fact that all free and pay-TV and video entertainment operators should register their business in South Africa, and pay tax,” Rakitla said of the statement.

“We believe that to create a healthy competitive environment, it is vital to ensure that the playing field is level – and all players are equally committed to making a positive contribution to South Africa.”

This extends not only to Netflix, but to Showmax and any other streaming players.

“We believe the consumer wins when there is a range of pay TV services to choose from – both paid and free.”

Rakitla added that there is also concern regarding the current ICASA inquiry into competition in the pay TV sector, as it only looks at paid broadcast TV “and doesn’t include free broadcast TV and OTT services, both free and paid”.

Rakitla said if streaming services are not included in the review, the regulator runs the risk of not having a forward-looking framework and not managing developments in the industry.

Netflix to abide by local laws

Netflix previously told MyBroadband it intends to abide by local laws and taxes in South Africa.

“In terms of South Africa, we are continuing to grow our content investment in South Africa,” added the company.

“As an example, we have the South African film Catching Feelings globally outside of South Africa, and have it as a post-theatrical release in South Africa.”

Now read: DStv – Your time is up

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Netflix should be BEE compliant to operate in South Africa – MultiChoice