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MultiChoice in contempt: Court’s order trashed


The Unholy Alliance: MultiChoice and SABC Exposed as Rogue Players in South Africa’s Sports Broadcasting Scene

A new scandal has rocked the sports broadcasting industry in South Africa, as eMedia, a major player in the market, accuses MultiChoice and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) of breaching a Competition Tribunal order and engaging in anticompetitive behavior.

In a bombshell application filed with the competition appeal court, eMedia claims that MultiChoice and the SABC entered into a "contemptuous" sports sublicensing agreement that violates an April ruling by the Competition Tribunal. The agreement, which restricts the SABC from airing certain sports events on its Openview platform, is a blatant disregard for the tribunal’s order and an attempt to stifle competition in the market.

"This is a classic example of dominant players using their market power to squash competition and undermine the regulatory framework," said Antonio Lee, chief financial officer of eMedia. "We are seeking relief from the court to prevent this egregious behavior and protect the interests of consumers."

But MultiChoice and the SABC have denied any wrongdoing, with the former accusing eMedia of trying to "free ride" on its broadcast rights. However, experts have questioned the legitimacy of the sublicensing agreement, citing concerns over transparency and competitive bidding processes.

"The agreement raises serious questions about the lack of competition in the market and the willingness of dominant players to manipulate the system to their advantage," said Michael Markovitz, head of the Gibs Media Leadership Think Tank. "It’s a shameful display of corporate greed and disregard for the regulatory framework."

The dispute began in October 2023, when eMedia filed complaints with the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal over MultiChoice’s refusal to allow the SABC to broadcast certain sports events on its Openview platform. The tribunal subsequently issued an interim relief order, prohibiting MultiChoice and the SABC from restricting the SABC’s ability to broadcast certain events on Openview.

However, eMedia alleges that MultiChoice and the SABC have deliberately flouted the order, entering into the contentious sublicensing agreement that restricts the SABC’s broadcast rights. The agreement has already denied millions of South African households the opportunity to watch certain sports events, a stark reminder of the power dynamics at play in the market.

The controversy has sent shockwaves through the sports broadcasting industry, with many calling for greater accountability and transparency from dominant players. The court’s decision in this case could have far-reaching implications for the future of sports broadcasting in South Africa.

As the battle between eMedia, MultiChoice, and the SABC continues to unfold, one thing is clear: the future of sports broadcasting in South Africa hangs in the balance. Will the court intervene to prevent further anticompetitive behavior, or will dominant players continue to use their market power to stifle competition? Only time will tell.



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