Government wants to make these DStv sports free to watch

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has published its Draft Sports Broadcasting Services Amendment Regulations for public comment, aiming to make sporting events more accessible to the wider public.

Following the publication of the previous draft regulations, ICASA has published amended draft regulations which include an adapted list of sports that must be made free-to-watch in the public interest.

If one of these sports was on DStv or SuperSport, MultiChoice would be required to make the sport available through free-to-air channels, effectively allowing all South Africans to watch this sport despite not having a DStv subscription.

ICASA noted the trend that most major sporting events of national interest are broadcasted by subscription services such as DSTv, including the recent Rugby World Cup.

“Notwithstanding the existence of the 2010 Regulations, the Authority has observed a trend whereby national sporting events are mostly broadcast live on subscription television, resulting in the majority of South Africans being unable to access such events on a live basis due to affordability of such service,” the regulator said.

“A case in point is the 2019 Rugby World Cup whereby the rights were bought by a subscription broadcasting licensee leaving the majority of South Africans excluded from accessing the national team’s participation in the World Cup, apart from the final match which was broadcast after public outcry.”

ICASA listed the following national sporting events which may be broadcast “live, delayed-live, or delayed” by free-to-air broadcasting licensees, most of which are available on DStv:

List of sports events that must be free to watch
Summer Olympic Games Paralympics
Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Women’s World Cup
Africa Cup of Nations Rugby World Cup
International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 Cricket World Championships
Netball World Cup Commonwealth Games
International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Athletics Championships Super Rugby
All Africa Games Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup
Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League Confederation of African Football (CAF) Confederations Cup
MTN 8 Telkom Knockout
Nedbank Cup Currie Cup
The Association For International Sport for All (TAFISA) World Sport for All Games

Commercial agreements

As DStv, via SuperSport, owns the broadcast licences for the majority of sports in South Africa, it will be the most affected by these new regulations.

Selected fixtures from many of these events are already available for broadcast through free-to-air broadcasters such as the SABC, however.

MultiChoice and other pay-TV broadcasters will also not lose the right to broadcast events listed above if the reviewed list is approved.

ICASA noted that the sports industry relies on the sale of broadcasting rights as their biggest source of revenue, and sporting bodies that submitted representations contended that the best commercial offers for their rights were often made by subscription broadcasters.

“This situation contributes to the majority of South Africans being denied access to sports of national interest,” ICASA said.

“In light of the above considerations, the Authority has in the amended Draft Regulations sought to give effect to the provisions of section 60 of the ECA whilst considering the competing concerns of the financial sustainability of broadcasters and ensuring increased access to national sporting events is provided to most of the South African population,” ICASA said.

The new draft regulations are open for comment until 15 December 2020 and are embedded below.

Now read: DStv must crack down on TV Licences – SABC

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Government wants to make these DStv sports free to watch