Sandisiwe Mbhele

By Sandisiwe Mbhele

UX Content Writer

SABC can now charge DStv for its free-to-air channels

SABC has been providing their free-to-air channels on DStv at no additional costs. MultiChoice says they are open to negotiating commercial terms

MultiChoice has welcomed the finality of the process in which the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has given SABC permission to charge for their free-to-air channels on pay for subscription services.

The recently gazetted changes stipulate in the Electronic Communications Act, the SABC now has the right to negotiate carriage charges for these channels, Moneyweb reported.  

SABC provides their three main channels SABC 1, 2 and 3 airing on DStv at no cost to them. DStv has had to air the channels to help the national broadcaster fulfil its mandate to keep viewers informed with important information. 

Icasa stated the payment must be negotiated between the public broadcasting services (PBS) and pay-TV licensees.

“Payment regarding the transmission of must-carry channels must be negotiated by both PBS and the SBS in terms of section 60(3) of the [Electronic Communications Act]. The PBS has an obligation to serve the public by producing content that is in the public interest,” it stated. 

When asked for comment, MultiChoice responded to The Citizen and said they welcomed the finality of the process. 

ALSO READ: Only one way the SABC can blacklist you for not paying TV licence

“We participated constructively in the process to amend these regulations since 2018. 

“The amended regulations reiterate the public interest intention of the Must Carry rules: to give South Africans who watch television through a pay-TV service, convenient access to SABC channels.  The most significant amendment is that subscription broadcasters and the SABC must negotiate a new must carry agreement on commercial terms. However, subscription broadcasters are not compelled to pay to carry the SABC channels.”

The pay for TV company said in most countries, “the public broadcaster pays the subscription broadcaster a fee for carrying its channels.

“MultiChoice is committed to negotiating commercial terms with the SABC in good faith. We will continue to carry the SABC channels on the current terms until a new agreement is reached,” they concluded. 

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits