DStv could be forced to run fewer ads

A recent discussion document published by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) revealed that free-to-air broadcasters are unhappy with the amount of advertising time DStv gets.

As a result, Icasa has indicated that it may have to limit advertising time allocated to subscription broadcasting services like DStv.

“The Authority’s finding is that one stakeholder raises concerns that the subscription broadcaster is granted excess time and scheduling to transmit its advertisements,” the regulator said.

“Therefore, the stakeholder suggests that the advertising time allocated to the subscription broadcasters should be limited in comparison to the free to air broadcasters.”

Icasa’s finding was based on responses provided by South African broadcasters relating to the impact of current advertising regulations on their financial viability.

E-tv owner eMedia explained it believes the impact of advertising regulations on free-to-air broadcasters is significantly greater than subscription services.

“eMedia is of the view that the MultiChoice monopoly position worsen the impact on their financial viability [sic],” it said.

“Furthermore, it is concerned that the subscription broadcasters have no limitations placed to their licences regarding duration of advertising, considering that the ECA allows subscription revenue to exceed advertising revenue.”

eMedia proposed that Icasa limits the amount of advertising allowed on subscription broadcast platforms.

“Therefore, eMedia proposes that the advertising regulations should be read together with any regulations into subscription broadcasting services with [the ]intention to limit the amount of advertising on the latter broadcasters,” it said.

MultiChoice holds an opposing view.

It believes the current advertising regulations — which have been in force since 1999 — restrict broadcasters’ ability to adapt to harsh economic and operating conditions like those experienced during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“MultiChoice submits that the regulations have been in force for over 20 years, and they are not based on the current environment driven by digital advertising,” it said.

“The scourge of Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated an increasing pressure on the audience fragmentation, competition with unregulated on-demand services, loss of advertising revenue to online advertisers and tough economic and operating conditions.”

It added that future amendments to advertising regulations should ease restrictions on broadcasters rather than worsen their difficulties.

Icasa explained that it believes the current regulations are balanced.

“The Authority’s position is that the Advertising Regulations are drafted in such a manner that they strike a balance between the broadcasters’ financial revenue while protecting consumers,” it said.

However, it added that it would continue to ensure that subscription broadcasters comply with regulations until such a time that amendments are made.

Now read: E-tv takes South Africa hostage over spectrum

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DStv could be forced to run fewer ads