___[19 July 2016] ICASA has released a questionnaire which will form the first stage of its inquiry into subscription television broadcasting markets.
Note that this questionnaire solicits information from the usual suspects, as well as Video-on-Demand, streaming and Over-The-Top providers.
The following process is to be followed:
- Information gathering in accordance with Section 4C of the ICASA Act, consisting of questionnaires and potentially one on one engagements with relevant stakeholders, if necessary. Stakeholders will have until:
- 27 July 2016 to submit questions of clarity on the questionnaire, to which ICASA will respond through the publication of a set of FAQs on its website
- 12 August 2016 to submit responses to the questionnaire
Note that a failure to respond to the questionnaire will disqualify a stakeholder from further participation in the information gathering stage of the inquiry.
Responses and questions of clarity can be submitted to email@example.com.
- Information gathered will thereafter be published as a Discussion Document that will be open for comment – by all interested parties – for 45 working days.
- Following consultation on the Discussion Document, ICASA will publish a Findings Document. If the findings support this, then ICASA may also publish draft regulations under section 67(4) of the Electronic Communications Act, which deals with competition matters
___[26 June 2016] ICASA has given notice of its intention to launch an inquiry into competition in the subscription television broadcasting services market.
According to ICASA:
The purpose of the inquiry is to, among others, define the relevant wholesale and retail markets or market segments in the subscription television broadcasting, taking into account the relationship, if any, and the impact from adjacent markets (i.e. Free-to-air broadcasting services, new technologies, and so on); and to determine whether there is effective competition in those relevant markets and market segments.
The Authority has observed the failure of new market entrants to commence with licensed activities in this market and noted that only two subscription broadcasters operate despite several having been licensed.
This highlights concerns of competition in the subscription television broadcasting market which appears not to be functioning effectively.
ICASA will therefore conduct an investigation and rule-making process under Chapter 10 of the Electronic Communications Act 36 of 2005 (“the ECA“), which sets out a process for investigating markets and imposing – where there is a failure of competition in a market – pro-competitive conditions on licensees found to have significant market power in that market (e.g. the market for the provision of subscription television broadcasting services).
It is worth noting that a 2014 amendment to the ECA significantly simplified the operation of Chapter 10. It also broadened the forms of pro-competitive condition which ICASA is empowered to impose on broadcasting service licensees to include conditions relating to the distribution, access and reselling obligations for broadcasters.
In 2014, ICASA initiated an inquiry into the state of competition in the SA ICT sector, noting the following with regard to the broadcasting market:
On the broadcasting side, attempts to introduce competition in the subscription television environment are clouded by challenges faced by TopTV in attempting market entry in the subscription TV market, resulting in its entering business rescue. There is also in the commercial sound broadcasting market a series of attempts by broadcasters to develop economies of scale by acquiring minority stakes in other radio stations or requesting exemptions from the ownership and control regulations. In the free-to-air commercial television market, allegations have been made of unfair competition between subscription TV and free-to-air TV with regard to access to adspend revenues. Concerns have also been raised by the incumbent TV broadcasters about the Authority’s plans to introduce new commercial and community TV services during the digital migration process. Consumers locked in Multichoice contracts are confronted by escalating costs with no relief in sight.