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MultiChoice, Africa’s Largest TV Operator Pushes For Netflix Regulation

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by Oyinlola Isiaka on July 13, 2018

MultiChoice, Africa’s largest TV operator calls for the regulation of Netflix as Netflix’s presence is growing popular among African viewers. This is no surprise as MultiChoice is already has an established monopoly in the local African markets. Netflix poses a threat to MultiChoice as a technology disruptor with a greater variety and cheaper subscription fees..

MultiChoice’s parent company became one of the largest technology investors in the word after playing a crucial role as a mouthpiece of the apartheid government. After the apartheid, South Africa began its integration with the continent. Using its infrastructure to cultivate the underdeveloped media industry of the continent, only to become the most dominant television company in Africa.

Initially, the South African firm attempted to compete through the launch of its own streaming services, ShowMax and DStvNow. However, these efforts have not been sufficient in securing its market. According to QuartzMedia, MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela gave blame to Netflix for their market loss of more than 100,000 subscribers in the last financial year. Thus, Mawela has called for the need for regulation of Netflix and other over-the-top services as they are already at an advantage due to their lack of contention with affirmative action regulations. Mawela also emphasized that regulation was in the interests of the African economy.

Mawela went further to state, “As a country we have national objectives … if I was to be very narrow, I would say [to Icasa]: treat us like Netflix, so we do not have to pay tax or comply with black economic empowerment regulations. I am saying bring the likes of Netflix in the same net. Netflix does not employ even one person in this country, it doesn’t pay tax, they do not have to do any local content.”

DSTV predicts that Netflix has between 300,000 to 400,00 subscribers in South Africa alone. Compared to DSTV’s reportedly 6.6 million subscribers in the previous year. Regardless, Mawela wants the competition in the market leveled at equal playing fields.

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