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One more highly embarrassing loss for the beleaguered SABC: The court has dismissed, with cost, the application from the South African public broadcaster to have it's TV channels pulled from Platco Digital's OpenView HD (OVHD) free-to-air satellite platform.
The South Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of Platco Digital and dismissed the SABC application with cost.
The SABC went to court to force Platco Digital to not launch and carry SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 as TV channels.
Platco Digital with its head office in Johannesburg is backed by e.tv's parent company Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), and HCI owns Sabido Investments which has a two-thirds investment in Sabido.
The SABC brought an interdict against Platco Digital to prevent Platco from carrying SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 on OVHD, or to use the SABC's brands (like channel logos) for marketing or promotional purposes of the new satellite TV service.
The SABC said that there was no agreement between the SABC and e.tv to carry and broadcast its TV channels on OpenView HD, while Platco Digital said that there is an agreement to carry and broadcast the channels.
According to Platco, it would be carrying the SABC's three TV channels for 18 months for free, after which the SABC would be charged equitable, reasonable and market related rates.
According to the court judgement of judge Moroa Tsoka, "there's no special circumstances entitling the SABC to final relief".
"OpenView HD has since its launch attracted more viewers which were unable to view SABC channels in spite of the fact that they own a TV set and by operation of the law are expected to pay a SABC licence," says the judgement.
"The granting of an interdict would harm Platco and e.tv's reputation among these viewers. Furthermore, an interdict would result in them losing these viewers and would harm their reputation to attract new viewers".
"Platco and e.tv's reputation among decoder manufacturers, decoder retailers, distributors and providers of other TV channels would be irreparably harmed. Their ability to make inroads into the broadcasting market and compete with pay-TV would also be irreparably harmed," judge Moroa Tsoka said.
The judge said the SABC failed to prove a clear right, and failed to prove that it has no alternative relief other than an interdict against Platco Digital.
According to the court, Platco Digital and e.tv in good faith also prepared a detailed written agreement addressing the SABC's concerns. "To date the SABC failed to react to the said agreement," says the judgment.