MultiChoice legal battle hurts eMedia’s profits

eMedia has released its financial results for the year ended 31 March 2024, revealing a decline in revenue and net profit thanks to load-shedding, the actors’ strike, and its battle with MultiChoice.

Despite this, the group described the results as “satisfactory”, considering its mitigation against continued load-shedding during the financial year.

It said load-shedding had a negative impact on overall viewership and resulted in a further decline in advertising revenue.

“The actors and writers’ strike in Hollywood at the beginning of the financial year also had a severe negative impact on one of the subsidiaries in the Group, Media Film Service, which made R31.5 million less in profit after tax when compared to the prior year,” it said.

“The Group also continued its legal battles against MultiChoice during the current financial year, spending R8.8 million more in the current year when compared to the prior year.”

eMedia’s revenue declined by 2.1% over the reporting period, from R3.12 billion as of 31 March 2023 to R3.06 billion at the end of March 2024.

At the same time, its net profit figure dropped from R377.7 million in 2022/23 to R333.9 million in 2023/24, representing a decline of 11.6%.

“Notwithstanding all the negative impacts to business operations in the macro-economic environment in South Africa, the Group was able to return favourable results,” said eMedia.

Last year, MultiChoice and the SABC concluded last-minute deals, allowing the public broadcaster to show key matches from the Rugby and Cricket World Cup tournaments.

This included all matches featuring the Springboks and Proteas, as well as the semi-finals and finals, regardless of who was playing.

However, the deals explicitly blocked the SABC from broadcasting the matches on any channels carried by eMedia’s Openview.

eMedia claimed that these restrictions were anti-competitive and implemented legal action against MultiChoice as a result.

In April 2024, the Competition Tribunal granted eMedia an interdict forcing MultiChoice to allow the SABC to broadcast live sports sub-licensed from SuperSport on Openview.

“The Tribunal has granted eMedia interim relief pending the final determination of its complaint to the Commission, or for a period of six months (whichever occurs first),” it said.

“MultiChoice, including its subsidiary SuperSport, and the SABC are interdicted from implementing and enforcing any restriction in the (existing) sub-licensing agreements entered into between them.”

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MultiChoice legal battle hurts eMedia’s profits