NATIONAL NEWS - A ruling by the Competition Commission of South Africa has found that Multichoice was able to “influence the strategic direction” of the SABC through a merger transaction.
The commission has issued a statement explaining its finding, in a report, that a 2013 deal amounted to a merger and was in contravention of the Competition Act as it occurred without the commission being notified.
Media group Caxton in 2015 made an application directly to the Competition Tribunal of South Africa challenging the 2013 deal alongside the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa.
The five-year agreement gave MultiChoice the right to broadcast SABC’s 24-hour news channel and an entertainment channel, SABC Encore.
It also appears to have led to the SABC abandoning its support of set-top box control. The broadcaster is alleged to have been in favour of introducing set-top boxes only to abandon the idea after the deal was signed.
According to the application, SABC “effectively ceded its power to determine its policy on set-top box control to a commercial broadcasting entity that is also its competitor”.
Caxton, alongside the two other groups, attempted to compel the SABC and MultiChoice to notify the commission of the agreement.
The tribunal dismissed the application and in a 2016 appeal at the Competition Appeal Court (CAC) it was ruled that the deal between the two broadcasting companies was not a merger.