MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela has reiterated that if ICASA imposes heavy regulations on DStv, it could cost thousands of jobs in South Africa.
Mawela made his argument against heavy regulation at a public ICASA hearing in Sandton, Johannesburg on 11 May.
The hearing was on an ICASA discussion document published in 2017, which outlines possible regulations aimed at improving competition in the pay TV market.
Mawela said the company is against the increased regulation.
MultiChoice’s argument is based on the premise that ICASA must not go overboard with new regulations, and any regulations imposed on it should apply to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.
Netflix vs traditional TV
ICASA has proposed numerous possible regulations for the pay TV sector, including forcing exclusive sports rights contracts to be shortened.
“The only beneficiaries of increased regulation on MultiChoice will be global services like Netflix,” said Mawela.
He argued that increased regulation could allow for international streaming services to exert dominance over the local market, and cost thousands of jobs at MultiChoice.
Mawela stated that while MultiChoice employs over 8,000 staff locally, Netflix employs 4,000 people around the world in total.
“We are seeing a global decline in traditional television,” added Mawela.
“Where it gets scary for owners of TV stations is how much less TV viewing is happening in younger generations.”
MultiChoice said streaming services constrain pay TV subscriptions through the following avenues:
- Cord-shaving – Users who downgrade to lower-priced pay TV options.
- Cord-cutting – Users who drop pay TV subscriptions for services like Netflix and Amazon Prime video.
- Cord-nevers – Users who have never had a pay TV subscription and opt to subscribe to online streaming services.
Mawela proposed that Netflix should be taxed in South Africa, and subject to the same regulations local pay TV services are required to comply with.
This includes obtaining a broadcast licence, maintaining a local presence, meeting BEE requirements, and developing local content.