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Hell no, we won’t pay, DStv boss tells SABC

‘I do not see the reason we should be paying for channels that are freely available.’

MultiChoice South Africa CEO Calvo Mawela has hit out at the SABC’s call for it to pay to carry its public service channels on DStv, saying it will not do so if so-called “must-carry” regulations are amended or scrapped.

Speaking to TechCentral in a wide-ranging podcast interview, which will be published on Tuesday, Mawela said he “fails to comprehend the logic of the SABC” in demanding payment for SABC 1, 2 and 3.

Last Tuesday, at public hearings convened by communications regulator Icasa into the pay-TV sector in South Africa, a team from the SABC — led by chief operating officer Chris Maroleng — argued strongly that the must-carry regulations, which require MultiChoice and other satellite pay-TV providers to carry the SABC’s three free-to-air channels, are unfair. Commercial broadcasters are exploiting the situation to their advantage and to the financial detriment of the SABC, it said.

The cash-strapped broadcaster, which has been lobbying Icasa for some time to amend the must-carry rules, wants DStv, StarSat and others to pay to carry SABC 1, 2 and 3 on their platforms. They currently don’t have to pay for the channels as the regulations, which were introduced in 2008, state they must be offered at no cost.

MultiChoice, it said, is getting a free ride, and suggested that many of the most popular programmes viewed on DStv are in fact produced by the SABC.

But Mawela said the SABC’s argument is illogical. “The SABC channels are freely available anyway,” he said. “You don’t … need a DStv decoder for you to receive SABC channels… The issue of them being on the MultiChoice platform is it’s convenience, first of all, for the DStv subscribers. Secondly, it’s about the universal service obligations of the SABC where they can reach any part of the country and this platform allows them to get access to all those people who might be on the outskirts of the country.”

He said the SABC’s reasoning that MultiChoice enjoys a commercial benefit in carrying its channels is nonsensical because “no one subscribes to DStv to get SABC channels”.

“I do not see the reason we should be paying for channels that are freely available. As I have already said, I fail to comprehend the logic of paying for channels that are freely available… Everyone can receive those channels, they do not have to be received through the DStv decoder.”

‘Loss for both parties’

If the must-carry regulations were scrapped and the SABC was to tell MultiChoice it couldn’t carry its channels without paying for them, Mawela said it would be “a loss for both parties”. Being on DStv, he said, ensures the SABC channels reach a wider audience than they might otherwise.

“If they are taken (off), it will inconvenience people who subscribe to DStv because those people might then have to put in aerials to receive SABC signals,” he said. It could also affect the SABC’s viewership numbers, leading to lower advertising revenue for the public broadcaster.

Mawela disputed the SABC’s assertion that its content is among the most popular on DStv. “I don’t think they have represented the information correctly. What you see is that during specific shows, yes, they outperform some of our shows… But throughout the 24-hour channel offering, saying that most of the people are watching the SABC – I do not buy into that research.”

In its presentation to Icasa, the SABC said its leading shows, including Uzalo, Generations, Skeem Saam, Muvhango, Tjovitjo and Isidingo, are among the most-watched shows on the DStv bouquets. “The SABC channels consistently appear in the top-15 most-watched channels (on DStv) with little to no commercial value to the SABC,” it said.

“At the time, the regulations seemed to be drafted on the basis that the ‘must-carry obligation’ was an onerous one for (pay-TV) licensees and that these broadcasters would be ‘doing the public broadcaster a favour’… On the contrary, the SABC must-carry channels have commercially benefited MultiChoice Africa and other subscription broadcasters at the expense of the public broadcaster….”

In its submission, the SABC said it often bids against MultiChoice for premium content. However, whether the SABC wins the tender or not “often becomes irrelevant” because MultiChoice — and other pay-TV providers — “still gain free access to that content through the must-carry obligations”.

This gives them an “unwarranted competitive edge and leverage at the expense of the public broadcaster and public funding”.

The must-carry regulations also distort the acquisition of sports broadcasting rights, the public broadcaster said. It often acquires expensive sub-licensed rights from DStv to show national sporting events. Under the regulations, MultiChoice benefits from the SABC’s re-transmission of these events. Other subscription broadcasters, which have no rights to broadcast these events, benefit too and incur zero acquisition costs. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

This article was published with permission from TechCentral and the original publication can be viewed here.


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Just another government Tax.
We pay a TV license for channels we don’t watch, now DSTV have to pay, so our DSTV subscription is used so we can pay for SABC again.

Fighting for crumbs they are. Both ships are sinking; only SABC has big brother (the government) to support them. We need a strong SABC to support and promote local content.

I agree with DSTV, put the SABC in its place, show them the door.

No one watches the SABC, it probably costs more to run it than DSTV.

Was the SABC not in the news for mismanagement and corruption?

why does the apartheid-era TV licence law still exist? With the many devices people use to access media content, a TV licence has no relevance anymore. The political party that promises to scrap the TV licence will get many more votes!

They’re walking on thin ice, imagine if SABC can license those popular content to Netflix, Showmax will lose it’s competitive advantage and DSTV will lose more subscribers.

Don’t think so. Subscribers simply have to invest in ordinary aerials to watch SABC for free?

Multichoice must pay…

The rich can keep DSTV, we will get aerials

Government is too sensitive to business, that is why they rip consumers off

The only show on SABC I can think of that people with DSTv watch is maybe the news?

…and yet DSTV charges anyone wanting to receive certain European National Broadcaster channels (whaich are free for multichoice to air) over R480 per month for the bouquet. These channels are not available on the cheaper bouquets.

But you cannot get those channels with an aerial in SA. The only way is through DSTV and they have to carry the cost of the satellite bandwidth to broadcast them.
Make no mistake, I have no sympathy for DSTV. I cancelled my premium account with them 3 years ago and switched to Netflix. Best move ever.

The story is a mix of Robin Hood and the sound of music. A forgotten world of business the way done a 200 years ago. It ended with a Titanic sinking and world war. Today, competition works different. A sample. the car, and falling in love. Men ever did fall for a smile and yes nod. Education spoiled that fun.

Calvo is missing the point, the channels are supposed to be paid for. That is why people are paying a license fee. Personally I have not understood why SABC is using open broadcasting, they should be using a different delivery mode and working hard to make the country move in that direction. So, Multichoice must pay at least some form of fee for using the service, because it is a service after all,and it cannot be using someone’s intellectual property and content to make itself money and stiffing SABC. Simply because ‘everyone is stealing from SABC’ is not a good argument to argue that they should not be paying because those people ‘are getting the service for free’. When I stopped believing that SABC is worth viewing, with its too many American re-runs and dubbing, and did not feel that I needed to pay a license fee, I chose not to view them in ptinciple.

I didnt even know they have been airing the national heritage (SABC 1,2 and 3) for FREE…

its absolutely wrong

Channels are not supposed to be paid for? TV Licence is a tax, pure and simple, if your entire model is based on taxing people, you were always a parasite and should be done away with for the financial good of the people.

Channels get all (at worst case most) of their revenue off advertising. DSTV should be charging the SABC for expanding the SABC reach and viewer numbers, which increases SABC ability to charge more for their adverts.

Just another example of the insanity that is an SOE in 2018 SA:
It is staffed to the gunnels with unemployable cadres;
Its most ludicrous ideas, bereft of all rationality, are fully subsidised by the taxpayer;
In executing these brain f@rts, it competes unfairly with private enterprise;
There is no commercial justification whatsoever for its existence;
It has never fulfilled its primary mandate, i.e. to provide news and educational programming to the masses;
Its leaders have consistently stolen from it, and defrauded it into penury.
Anything in the “working” model that I accidentally left out?

You are correct, only if Multichoice is allowed to air their own ads on these channels.

If not, it is actually SABC that should pay Multichoice, fairly speaking by an ad-revenue-sharing model…

Multichoice is wrong… they must pay

or just get rid of the channels. It’s cheaper and it’s a load of junk and a mismanaged piece of cr*p that’s a drain on the country. But to be fair i feel almost the same about multichoice and have gotten rid of them long ago.

Just when you thought the SABC was a ‘Hlaudi-free’ zone!

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