ICASA, the South African regulator for the broadcast media industry, has announced that it will relaunch its inquiry into the country’s subscription broadcasting services marketplace.
According to ICASA’s chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, “after reviewing the draft findings from the inquiry, the regulator believes that further consultation and engagement with stakeholders is required.”
“Moving forward, any regulatory intervention in this market should consider current policy developments as well as recent technological and market trends, Modimoeng added.
This contains the entry of complementary and competitive platforms introduced by streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) launched the inquiry in 2016 and published its findings in April 2019.
The report indicates that MultiChoice has a dominant position in South Africa’s subscription broadcasting market and proposed several remedies that include:
- Unbundling sports rights
- Splitting content rights with more than one broadcaster
- Limiting the number of Hollywood studios a broadcaster may have exclusive agreements with
- Decoder interoperability with multiple satellite services
- MultiChoice baulked at the proposed regulations and took legal action against Icasa over having to give up its major competitive edge — sports rights.
In 2021, MultiChoice told the regulator that it faces an extensive threat from major international streaming providers.
According to MultiChoice, streaming platforms like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, HBO Now, and Peacock are an existential competitive threat.
“Relaunching the Inquiry is meant to enable the regulator to take account of all relevant and current developments to inform a robust, forward-looking regulatory intervention that upholds the interests of consumers and stability of the broadcasting services market, Modimoeng mentioned.
According to the regulator, its consultation will include the publication of a questionnaire to solicit comments and information from interested stakeholders and also consider work from the 2021–22 financial year Inquiry.