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ICASA Releases Draft Findings on Pay TV Inquiry

April 12, 2019

Independent Communications Authority

12 April 2019

A Draft Findings Document on the Inquiry into Subscription Television Broadcasting Services has been released.

The Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) published the draft findings in Government Gazette 42391.

The document expresses ICASA’s view and position on the issues raised during the Inquiry.

The Inquiry into the state of competition in the pay television sector got underway in July 2016 with the release of a questionnaire for stakeholders.

A discussion document was subsequently published in August 2017 and public hearings took place in May 2018.

ICASA started to draw up the draft findings in November 2018.

Certain confidential information has been redacted or not disclosed in the document as requested by stakeholders.

The document focuses on, inter alia, recent or future developments that have or may have an impact on broadcasting services, market definition, consideration of the effectiveness of competition in relevant markets, consideration of licensees with significant market power and pro-competitive licence conditions.

Some of the findings include that over-the -top media services such as video-on-demand, while expanding, still have a muted impact given the level of internet access, the high cost of data and low average internet speeds; the current policy of non-encryption means that digital terrestrial television will have a minimal impact on satellite-based pay TV; the Must Carry Regulations are under review; not all content is substitutable and there is no single market for content; identified premium content to remain unchanged over market review period of three years; ineffective competition found in the retail distribution of pay TV and free-to-air satellite TV market, retail distribution of premium pay TV market and the wholesale purchasing of premium content market; MultiChoice possesses significant market power; limit the duration of exclusive contracts entered into by licensees with market power to three years; prohibit the automatic renewal of contracts by licensees with market power; introducing rights splitting, unbundling and wholesale must-offer; licensees with market power to only have agreements with half the Hollywood movie studios and introducing set-top box interoperability.

Written representations on the draft findings document are invited within 45 working days of the date of publication.

Meanwhile, president Ramaphosa has appointed eight new SABC board members.

The appointees will serve with immediate effect until 15 October 2022.

The members were nominated by the national assembly following a public consultation process undertaken by the portfolio committee on communications.