The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and free-to-air broadcaster, e.TV have accused Sentech of excessive pricing and anticompetitive behaviour.
BMA understands that the broadcasters have submitted a formal complaint to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) – the country’s industry regulator – to call for urgent regulatory interventions in the signal distribution market to deal with alleged monopolistic abuses by Sentech.
The submissions form part of a market inquiry by ICASA into the signal distribution services market in South Africa. Sentech, on the other hand, wants the regulator’s discussion document withdrawn.
In its submission, E.tv parent eMedia Investments said that it is “deeply concerned at the fact that the issues relating to significant market power concerning signal distribution services have been ignored for decades”.
“This is despite pleas by the broadcasters that the market needed urgent regulation. Icasa recognised back in 2010 that there was an urgent need to regulate the market due to Sentech’s undisputed dominance.” eMedia said.
The free-to-air broadcaster also accused Icasa of not fulfilling its mandate and failing terrestrial broadcasters “while enabling Sentech to further entrench its position.
Furthermore, eMedia claimed in its submission that other than M-Net, Broadcasters had no choice but to use Sentech’s services. The SABC also criticised Sentech’s tariffs and behaviour, describing them as “not appropriate or correct”.
The public broadcaster said its concerns led to creating a “chart of accounts project” to determine the fairness or otherwise of Sentech’s fees.
“The details of the various costs per service and per transmission site have been requested from Sentech to understand how the cost structure for each service was derived. However, Sentech has not been cooperative in this regard for the past two years,” the public broadcaster alleged in its submission.
Meanwhile, Sentech has suggested that Icasa should withdraw its discussion document.