E-tv calls foul on MultiChoice

eMedia has said in a statement that it will not be broadcasting the T20 World Cup in June because of a constrained bidding time frame provided by MultiChoice.

This comes after MultiChoice, which acquired exclusive rights to the World Cup, only opened a tender for free-to-air broadcasters to bid for sub-licensing rights five weeks before the tournament’s start.

As a result, eMedia said bidders are “unlikely” to receive confirmation of broadcasting rights until less than two weeks before the event.

eMedia said it hasn’t submitted a bid, as there will not be enough time to secure sponsors, arrange advertising, and adjust programming schedules.

Due to this conduct, the broadcaster believes MultiChoice has violated the Electronic Communications Act and the Sports Broadcasting Regulations, which mandate prompt notification to free-to-air broadcasters.

“eMedia views the issuing of these late invitations to tender by MultiChoice as undermining fair competition and ignoring a recent Competition Tribunal order designed to prevent such restrictive practices,” the broadcaster said.

“This behaviour is not only unfair to E-tv’s dedicated viewers but also detrimental to the South African broadcasting industry as a whole.”

This is not the first time eMedia has called foul on MultiChoice’s behaviour around sports rights.

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 launched legal action against MultiChoice as a result.

The Competition Tribunal recently granted eMedia an interdict forcing MultiChoice to allow the SABC to broadcast live sports sub-licensed from SuperSport on Openview.

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E-tv calls foul on MultiChoice