Communications regulator, Icasa, extends consultation on the country’s pay-TV market.
- The arrival of content platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video has changed the face of content consumption.
- MultiChoice, the owner of DStv, has long been considered a dominant player in subscription broadcasting services.
- The extension of consultations on the subscription broadcasting services is meant to draw further input from stakeholders.
Consultations on hearings looking into competition in the pay-TV sector has been extended to allow for further consultation, the Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) said on Monday, adding that there had been ongoing developments in this “rapidly changing market.”Last year, Icasa began an inquiry on the Subscription Broadcasting Services Market, where stakeholders including MultiChoice, SABC and e.tv made submissions. The hearings were part of Icasa’s draft-finding document published in 2019 on subscription television broadcasting services, which DStv operator MultiChoice dominates.However, in its presentation to the regulator, MultiChoice dismissed claims that it had monopolised the country’s pay-TV sector, stating that technological developments and changing content consumption patterns had caused significant disruption, lowering entry barriers and switching costs.Announcing the extension of the consultations, Icasa said “based on ongoing developments in what is a rapidly changing market, the consultation process” must be extended into the current financial year.The chairperson of the regulatory body, Keabetswe Modimoeng, stated that the draft findings emanating from the inquiry indicated that further consultation and engagement with stakeholders would be required. He noted the current policy developments, as well as recent technological and market trends, including entry of complementary and competitive services introduced by, among others, over-the-top (OTT) players. OTT services include streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and MultiChoice’s own product, Showmax, and the additional consultation process will allow stakeholders and consumers of subscription-based services and OTT content to provide input into the regulation of the sector.The extended consultation process will include a questionnaire to get comments from interested stakeholders. The authority will also conduct a full inquiry that includes publication of an updated discussion document and public hearings, to come to a conclusive determination of the subscription TV market dynamics going forward.