Multichoice bowls eMedia a 'googly' …

multichoice bowls emedia a 'googly' …

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Multichoice bowls eMedia a “googly” …

eMedia’s audience is being deprived of key national sporting events due to what it views as the anti-competitive conduct of MultiChoice/SuperSport. Despite Multichoice having acquired exclusive television rights to the T20 World Cup some time ago, it only gave free-to-air broadcasters, including e.tv the opportunity to tender for these rights less than five weeks before the start of the event, with the award of the tender unlikely to be announced until less than two weeks before the event.

As a result, eMedia was unable to tender for these rights. If eMedia did succeed in securing rights less than two weeks before the event, it would have been impossible to secure sponsors, arrange advertising, and adjust programming schedules.

This means that millions of loyal e.tv viewers, who do not have access to DStv’s paid services, will be denied the opportunity to watch the South African T20 world cup matches for free on its channel.

MultiChoice's actions violate both the Electronic Communications Act and the Sports Broadcasting Regulations, which mandate prompt notification to free-to-air broadcasters. Multichoice has not explained why it did not do so until the last minute.

eMedia views the issuing of these late invitations to tender by Multichoice as undermining fair competition and ignoring a recent Competition Tribunal order designed to prevent such restrictive practices.

eMedia has formally raised these concerns with MultiChoice, demanding an end to these harmful tactics but has received no response. This behaviour is not only unfair to e.tv's dedicated viewers but also detrimental to the South African broadcasting industry as a whole. eMedia is disappointed that Multichoice has treated free-to-air broadcasters who compete with them in this way.

This is particularly so given that Multichoice cannot use the free-to-air rights it has purchased. The issue of the manner in which Multichoice deals with its exclusive purchase of sports rights is currently being dealt with at the Competition Commission and ICASA as a result of complaints by eMedia relating to this conduct.

Issued by eMedia Communications.

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