South African media companies Openview and e.tv parent eMedia Holdings are set to argue at the Competition Tribunal that MultiChoice Group is using its dominant market position to impose broadcasting terms for premium sporting events on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
The dispute between eMedia and MultiChoice over sports rights has been ongoing for some time now. Last year, eMedia challenged MultiChoice in the high court over its refusal to allow the SABC to carry rugby and cricket games sublicensed to it on the Openview free-to-air satellite platform.
Although eMedia lost the case, it seeks to recover its legal costs in a new hearing. In heads of argument presented to the tribunal, eMedia accuses MultiChoice of using its financial muscle to secure exclusive rights to sports content, including free-to-air rights, and engaging in anti-competitive behaviour in sublicensing agreements.
“The tribunal should also take into account that MultiChoice’s conduct is particularly shocking in that it affects not only the public broadcaster and its only meaningful competitor, eMedia but also has a substantial detrimental impact on members of the public and infringes fundamental constitutional rights in the process,” eMedia says in the heads of argument.
“It is submitted that this relief is both reasonable and just as envisaged in section 49C of the Competition Act and that eMedia has made out a case for the interim interdict sought.”
MultiChoice, on the other hand, has argued that eMedia’s complaints have no basis in law or fact and that exclusivity is the primary tool for attracting subscribers. The company obtains exclusive rights to content that it believes audiences will pay for by subscribing to the DStv service.