Put consumers first, MultiChoice tells minister

MultiChoice said in a press statement issued on 19 March 2014, that it is extremely disappointed by communications minister Yunus Carrim’s utterances on digital migration.

MultiChoice urged Carrim to put the interests of consumers first.

MultiChoice further accused Carrim of disregarding their voices and attempted to deny anyone but himself the opportunity to speak for millions of South African television viewers.

Earlier this week Carrim lashed out at MultiChoice, accusing the company of profiteering and not putting the interests of South Africa first (see Cut DStv prices if you really care about consumers: minister).

The minister further 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.

The MultiChoice press statement is provided in full below.

Response to the Minister of Communications’ utterances on digital migration

Multichoice is extremely disappointed at the response to date by the Minister of Communications to attempts by our company, black-owned electronics companies and the community TV sector to raise public awareness about the negative impact of the Department of Communications digital migration policy on the poor.

We urge him to put the interests of consumers first.

Over the past few days, the Minister has accused Multichoice, NAMEC and the community TV sector of “misrepresenting” the situation.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

MultiChoice, the SABC, the community television sector and the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronics Components (NAMEC) are all on record in support of the “unencrypted” set box option because of its multiple benefits to South African television viewers.

The Minister has disregarded all our voices and attempted to deny anyone but himself the opportunity to speak for millions of South African television viewers.

Rather than engage with the merits of the debate, the Minister has chosen to divert attention by questioning the position that MultiChoice occupies as a significant contributor to the broadcasting industry, and the South African economy in general.

We have to ask: why? If South African consumers don’t matter, who does?

It is clear that, like everywhere else in the world, an unencrypted option is not only the best low-cost option in terms of initial outlay, but is cheaper in terms of ongoing costs to consumers.

Tagging those who choose to differ from him as “bullies” does not contribute to a solution that is in the best interests of South African television consumers.

We remain open to constructive engagement on this matter, but believe the Minister is ill advised. We, however, welcome the Minister’s comments that he remains open to dialogue.

More on battle between MultiChoice and the communications minister

Give us free, unencrypted digital TV now

Digital TV in SA: no encryption needed, says Cabinet

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Put consumers first, MultiChoice tells minister