According to MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela, international streaming platforms like Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Britbox must comply with Black Economic Empowerment policies (BEE) and pay tax in South Africa.
Mawela said that the South African market was already under strain as traditional broadcasters are subjected to more regulations than streaming services.
“International streaming services must comply with South African laws like any other entity operating in the country,” Mawela mentioned.
Mawela further indicated that these streaming services should also comply with employment requirements, contribute to local content, and pay local taxes.
In 2016, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) launched an inquiry into subscription TV services citing that it wanted to intervene in the market due to DStv’s stronghold.
As a result of the inquiry and calls from the South African ruling party to break MultiChoice’s monopoly on premium sports broadcasting, Mawela stated that global streaming platforms must also be subjected to the same regulations as DStv.
After much consultations and engagement with industry stakeholders, the regulator published the findings of the inquiry in April 2019.
According to their finding, the regulator stated that the impact of these streaming services was limited due to South Africa’s poor broadband penetration and the high cost of mobile data.
The regulator further recommended several interventions targeted at MultiChoice, including shortening exclusive contracts, imposing rights splitting and wholesale-must-offer, opening MultiChoice’s network, and introducing decoder inter-operability.
In response, MultiChoice said, “We consider providers like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, HBO Now & Peacock to be an existential competitive threat.”
In May 2022, ICASA announced that it was restarting the inquiry.
Former ICASA Chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng said, “Upon considering the draft findings emerging from the Inquiry, the regulator is of the view that further consultation and engagement with industry stakeholders is needed.”
“Any regulatory intervention in this market ought to take account of current policy developments, as well as recent technological and market trends,” Modimoeng added.