Wednesday, February 17, 2016

SABC's archive access and SABC Encore and SABC News channels provided to MultiChoice's DStv is not a merger rules Competition Tribunal.

The Competition Tribunal of the Competition Commission of South Africa has found that the exclusive deal between the SABC and MultiChoice for archive access and creating public broadcaster TV channels for the DStv service is not a merger.

Caxton, the public pressure group SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) brought the case to the Competition Commission.

MultiChoice pays the SABC millions of rand to provide the SABC News (DStv 404)  and SABC Encore (DStv 156) channels to the DStv platform and the group argued that the mega-millions deal between the public broadcaster and the pay-TV behemoth constituted a merger.

The Competition Tribunal found that the contract entered into on 3 July 2013 "did not give rise to a notifiable merger in terms of the Competition Act".

"It was a major part of Caxton's case that the SABC had given up the rights to broadcast its valuable archive to its own viewers, not to mention precluding itself from licensing it to other broadcasters," says the Competition Tribunal.

The Competition Tribunal found that the original contract was changed three times and lessened the constraints from MultiChoice in regards to SABC archives access and diluted certain rights mentioned in the original contract.

"The agreement is too limited in scope to justify a conclusion that MultiChoice was assuming control over the SABC's business".

In a statement the SABC's chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng says "we are delighted by the ruling of the Competition Commission of South Africa on this matter, as it negates the malicious allegations that were doing the rounds that the SABC has sold the SABC archives whilst this was not the case".

"The SABC remains committed to continuously establish cordial and mutually benefitting relations with key stakeholders as well as other broadcasters for the benefit of the SABC audiences".