DStv sport monopoly a problem: Icasa CEO

The tight grip MultiChoice has on premium content in South Africa has made it just about impossible for other subscription TV services to enter the market.

This is according to Pakamile Pongwana, newly appointed CEO of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

“How many times… twice now we have tried to allocate subscription TV and every time we have hit a brick wall,” Pongwana said.

“And why? Because … premium content is closed,” Pongwana said.

Pakamile Pongwana
Pakamile Pongwana

Pongwana said that he is not saying all content should be regulated, but for a subscription TV operator to make a go of it they need at least soccer, he added.

It is therefore perhaps necessary for at least premium content to be regulated, he said.

“Even if you say MultiChoice must charge what they paid for it plus some mark-up, at least it becomes available,” Pongwana said.

This outstanding issue is what is holding up the launch of competitive subscription TV offerings in South Africa, Pongwana said.

Previously, on Premium Content Debate SA

Pongwana’s general view is shared by Minister of Communications, Yunus Carrim, who previously said that DStv’s dominance in premium and sports-related content must be broken.

Before Carrim, Dina Pule also said that she would issue a policy directive to improve competition in the broadcasting sector.

Hitting back at these earlier statements, Naspers CEO Koos Bekker said that it was ridiculous to consider doing away with exclusive rights on sports broadcasting.

Koos Bekker
Koos Bekker

“I was on the World Cup Committee for ten years, the income statement looks like this: 90% of all the income for the Soccer World Cup was from TV rights and everything else, all the seats sold in the stadium, all the scarves, all the sponsorships amounted to less than 10%. TV pays the bills,” said Bekker.

He went on to explain that in the case of the local Premier Soccer League, MultiChoice/Naspers pay for everything. “We pay for every player and the lights at the stadium and…the backroom, we pay all the bills.”

Bekker said that the reason they can pay the bill is because they have exclusive rights on the content.

“The moment government were to say ‘Okay, E-tv you have it’, it loses all appeal for us because no one will pay us to get something which is available for free, which means the value will drop to a tenth of what it is now and clubs simply can’t pay the players,” Bekker said.

The cost of live football on DStv

SuperSport 3 and 4 are the channels set aside on DStv for local and international football matches and are available on the DStv Premium, DStv Extra, and DStv Compact bouquets.

SS3, 4, and 9 are the only numbered SuperSport channels available on bouquets other than DStv Premium. DStv Premium costs R625/month, DStv Extra costs R380/month, and DStv Compact costs R275/month.

MultiChoice also offers lower resolution broadcasts of SuperSport 1, 2, 3, and 4 on its DStv Mobile offering. This is available for free to DStv Premium subscribers, or at R49/month for anyone else, including non-subscribers.

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DStv sport monopoly a problem: Icasa CEO