MultiChoice’s DStv has been fined $14 million (R180 million) in South Africa for price fixing. The satellite television’s Media Sales division was found by South Africa’s Competition Commission to have contravened the country’s Competition Act in relation to “price fixing and fixing of trading conditions”.
In Nigeria, which is one of the South African brand’s biggest markets, DSTV has been around for about 22 years. However, the company has often been in the news mostly for ripping Nigerians off with its inflexible subscription conditions and unfriendly quality of service (QoS) which could be attributed to its monopolistic status in the Nigerian market.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives had in April, 2017 instructed its Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to investigate Multichoice Nigeria’s ‘exorbitant charges’ for its DStv and GOtv packages. In May 2017, Multichoice Nigeria increased its prices by 5% on all its packages, after it had increased it prices by more than 20% earlier.
The Chairman of DSTV Nigeria, Mr. Adewunmi Ogunsaya is also being questioned for his shady practices in Nigeria and GoTv transmission circumvention of licensed digital switch over, DSO providers, ITS and Pinnacle communications in collusion with Emeka MBA, former National Broadcasting Commission DG. The transmission circumventions are currently being reversed by the current DG NBC, Modibo Kawu
In South Africa, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) investigated allegations that MultiChoice exercised undue influence to change government policy on digital migration.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), which lodged the complaint last November, confirmed ICASA conducted an inquiry into payments made by MultiChoice to news channel ANN7 and public broadcaster, SABC.
Last year, furore erupted amid allegations the pay-TV company sought to pay the SABC R100 million a year for its 24-hour news channel in exchange for the public broadcaster’s political influence over digital migration.
MultiChoice has maintained the payments were above board, with its board announcing it will also conduct its own investigation pertaining to the alleged dubious payments.
In a statement, the DA’s shadow minister of communications Phumzile Van Damme reveals ICASA confirmed in writing that the matter has been referred to its compliance and consumer affairs division for investigation.
The DA is pleased that ICASA has agreed the payments require investigation, says Van Damme in a statement.
She explains: “South Africa deserves to know whether the payments were indeed above board, as MultiChoice has maintained.
“The DA believes that while companies like MultiChoice should be allowed the space to do business and create much-needed employment, their conduct must at all times be within the bounds of the law, in line with business ethics and in an environment where competition is not stifled.
“There is no issue with companies lobbying for policy positions through debate, but a situation where policy is bought cannot be allowed. It is tantamount to policy capture.”