Cut DStv prices if you really care about consumers: minister

Communications minister Yunus Carrim said that MultiChoice’s immense fear of competition to its DStv service is at the heart of its battle to remove encryption technology in its set-top box standard.

On Sunday, 16 March 2014 Multichoice, Act-SA and Namec published an open letter to Carrim, asking him to allow free, unencrypted digital terrestrial television to launch without any further delay.

MultiChoice criticized government’s position that set-top boxes must include technology which they say is “unnecessary and expensive”. They specifically referred to encryption technology, which is used to control access to TV services, saying it is not needed.

Carrim hit back in a press statement, saying that the open letter is “astonishingly inaccurate and serves to substantially weaken the case of those opposed to the government’s policy”.

“These are the same old, tired issues (raised in the advertisement) that several experts responded to in detail in the facilitation process on the Set-Top Boxes (decoders), necessary for the transition from the current analogue to digital television,” said Carrim.

MultiChoice’s immense fear of competition

In his press statement Carrim said that in all economic spheres where monopolies are challenged in our country, they resist fiercely. “We can’t be constantly bullied,” he said.

In an interview on Radio 702, Carrim said that “at the heart of the conflict is MultiChoice’s immense fear of competition. They have 98% of pay-TV [market share].”

Naspers has over 60% of the daily newspaper sales, 50% of the weekly newspaper sales, 50% of the community media, and 70% of the magazine sales.”

“We do need to tackle monopolies, but in a fair and measured way,” said Carrim.

MultiChoice should drop DStv prices if they care about consumers: minister

“There is this thing that is astonishing. This major monopoly presents itself as the defender of the consumer when it itself is drawing its profits from the consumer,” said Carrim. “It is like the landlord saying ‘I speak for the tenant’.”

“How can MultiChoice say it represents the nation’s interest rather than government? It is absurd,” he added.

In an interview on SABC, Carrim said that if MultiChoice really feels strongly about the consumer, they should make pay TV cheaper.

“Why don’t they make available sport and other activities that they have premier content access to, to the poor and disadvantaged?” asked Carim.

Carrim said that MultiChoice’s digital TV battle is an act of desperation. “It makes no sense, it is in bad faith and it is in poor taste.”

More on digital TV

Digital TV in SA: no encryption needed, says Cabinet

SABC jumped the gun on STB call: DA

SABC “free-to-air” set-top boxes welcomed

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Cut DStv prices if you really care about consumers: minister