International video streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Britbox must comply with BEE and pay taxes in South Africa, says MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela.
Talk to the Sunday TimesMawela said the South African market was unbalanced because traditional broadcasters were subject to more regulations than streaming services.
“[Video streaming players] have to abide by the laws like any business operating in South Africa,” Mawela said.
As a starting point, he said they had to comply with employment requirements, contribute local content, and pay local taxes.
This is not the first time that MultiChoice has called for increased regulation of global streaming operators in South Africa.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) launched an investigation into subscription TV services in 2016, saying it wanted to intervene in the market because of DStv’s dominance.
Responding to the investigation and calls from the ANC and the government to break MultiChoice’s monopoly on premium sports streaming, Mawela said Netflix must be subject to the same regulations as DStv.
Icasa published the draft findings of its investigation in April 2019 after a period of public consultation and engagement with stakeholders.
Although it recognized players like Netflix, Amazon and Disney, the regulator said their impact was muted due to South Africa’s low broadband penetration and high cost of mobile data.
He recommended several interventions targeting MultiChoice, including the shortening of exclusive contracts, the imposition of rights sharing and wholesale mandatory supply, the opening of MultiChoice’s network and the introduction of set-top box interoperability. .
MultiChoice predicted Icasa’s findings.
The regulator allowed stakeholders to comment on its draft findings last year.
“We view providers like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, HBO Now and Peacock as an existential competitive threat,” MultiChoice said in its presentation to the regulator.
In May 2022, Icasa has announced that it is relaunching the investigation.
“After reviewing the draft findings from the investigation – [Icasa] believes that further consultation and engagement with stakeholders is needed,” said former Icasa President Dr. Keabetswe Modimoeng.
“Any regulatory intervention in this market should take into account current policy developments, as well as recent technological and market trends.”
However, later that month an ANC policy paper revealed that the ruling party still wanted to crack down on MultiChoice.
The document was released for public discussion ahead of the ANC policy conference in July.
If passed, the policy would prevent the national sports bodies of the Springboks, Proteas and Bafana Bafana from exclusively selling broadcast rights.
Instead, the ANC wants the SABC to have the ability to broadcast all matches of these teams live.
To offset the revenue sports leagues would lose with MultiChoice, the ANC proposed an alternative funding model.
Its policy document does not give details on how this would work, except to state that the National Treasury should support the SABC.