ICASA has stated that Netflix is not obligated to abide by any local content quotas or requirements.
“Netflix is a streaming service and not a licensee,” ICASA told MyBroadband, adding that this rendered them exempt from local content expectations.
According to ICASA, subscription television broadcasting service licensees are expected to spend 15% of their annual content acquisition budget on local content.
Additionally, 15% of channel acquisition budget must be spent on channels with content that is created and uplinked from South Africa.
Netflix has previously come under criticism from the likes of MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela, who complained about the fact that the current regulatory regime doesn’t look at streaming players.
In contrast, the EU has enforced a content quota upon streaming services like Netflix, which requires that 30% of their catalogue consists of European content.
Content quotas of licensees
While Netflix does not have to follow local content requirements, big players like the SABC and MultiChoice do.
SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu informed MyBroadband that the public broadcaster implements internal local content quotas, which are more rigorous than regulations require.
These include a 65% local content quota for its public broadcasting offering, and a 45% local content quota for its commercial broadcasting bouquet.
MultiChoice told MyBroadband that it takes its role as a local storyteller very seriously, and delivers much more local content than what is prescribed by regulations.
“We invest more than R2 billion every year in the production of local content, and more than R2.5 billion every year in the production and development of sport,” MultiChoice said.
“This goes towards local productions and stories, local channels and also developing the local television production industry.”
When Netflix was asked whether it would be willing to adhere to a local content quota if one was imposed in South Africa, it said: “Our intention is to comply with all applicable local laws where required.”