MultiChoice, the South African company that operates DStv, a major satellite television service in Sub-Saharan Africa, has come under fire for the company’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup.
Business Report broke the news of the Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) inviting DStv management for urgent talks about the television group almost tripling the prices of its packages to the hospitality sector at the start of the Rugby World Cup 2023 (RWC 2023).
DStv had purchased the exclusive rights to broadcast the competition in the country, leaving many in the country with fears of not being able to watching a second of the Rugby World Cup, as it was reported that SABC which had failed to secure the rights, would not be allowed to broadcast any matches.
The SABC had refused to pay MultiChoice R37.7 million for the rights to broadcast live all potential Springbok games.
However, a day before the World Cup kicked off, SABC struck a deal with MultiChoice to broadcast 16 Rugby World Cup 2023 (RWC 2023) matches live, including all games in which the Springboks will play or potentially play.
“A total of 16 matches may be broadcast by the SABC, including the opening ceremony and opening match, all matches that the Springboks participate in, two quarter-final matches, one semi-final, the bronze final, the final and the closing ceremony. Should the Springboks not qualify for the knockout stages, the above matches will, in any event, be available for broadcast,” MulitChoice said in a statement.
The SABC then accused MultiChoice of anti-competitive behaviour, with the CEO of the broadcaster Ian Plaatjes saying that they had reported it to the Competition Commission, according to a report by EWN.
Plaatjes said that the late agreement had robbed the SABC of an opportunity to secure sponsorship.
"There are still very rigid conditions as well. For example, we cannot put this on OpenView HD (OVHD), and as you know our sports channel is on OVHD basically. So, it’s a huge, we believe, anti-competitive behaviour,” the CEO said.
Plaatjie said accused MultiChoice of, “bullying and huge anti- competitive behaviour.”
There were also additional restrictive clauses in the contract which were unfair, Plaatjie said. He also called on sponsors spending money on SuperSport to spend it on the SABC instead.
Meanwhile, Rasa CEO Wendy Albert, told Business Report that the hospitality industry had on several occasions asked DStv to hold talks about pricing, but DStv had ignored the requests. The association viewed the latest increase as “unconscionable, unjustified and unaffordable” for many restaurants and businesses in the hospitality sector.
She said Rasa had previously laid complaints about the uncompetitive pricing to the Competition Commission.
“The calculated timing of this massive 50% increase is designed to hold our members and broader hospitality industry to ransom,” Alberts said.
“The Rugby World Cup belongs to all South Africans … it is an incredible opportunity to stimulate tourism and boost the hospitality industry, which is still recovering from the effects of lockdown, load shedding and many other challenges,” she said.
In response, MultiChoice said it had announced a Business Play package update from September 1, aligned to its goal of “providing the best value and unrivalled access for Super fans.”
It said it had been forced to readjust its pricing and content offering for three of its DStv Business Play Packages due to increased costs in the local currency versus the US dollar after it was required to renegotiate content rights.
Following the broadcasting rights debacle, the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa has called for a solution to the ongoing tug of war between the SABC and MultiiChoice to broadcast Springboks matches.
Kodwa said: “I had made clear that my interest with the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, and met with senior executives of the SABC, urging the public broadcaster to find a solution to this impasse with MultiChoice.
“I reiterate my call for a permanent solution to be found, as we cannot find ourselves in this situation before major sporting events.”