Free-to-air television channel e.tv has called on the regulator to Indude ft in any must-carry policy If ft forces new pay television providers to air commercial station SABC3 on their plafforms. The SABC is pushing for the must-carry regulation, which will force all pay television providers – e.sat. On Digital Media, Telkom Media, Walking on Water and MultiChoice ? to carry its three current and future domestic channels for a fee payable to the public broadcaster. This would provide new revenue streams for the SABC.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) is holding hearings on regulations regarding the extent to which subscription broadcast services must carry, subject to commercially negotiable terms, the television programmes of a public broadcasting licensee.

Bronwyn Keene-Voung. etv?s chief operating officer, said yesterday that SABC3 was directly competing with e.tv for advertising, which was e.tv?s only source of revenue. Given Its public service obligations, e.tv should be included in the channels that pay television operators must air, she said.

“To do otherwise would be prejudicial to e.tv, particularly If SABC3 Is given such status.? 5ABCI and SABC2 are classified as public service channels, which are funded by the state but also subsidised by SABC3.

DImitri Martinez On Digital Media?s head of regulatory affairs, said the must-carry obligations would help the SABC to meet its public service mandate in remote areas.

Although Icasa should designate channels to be carried by pay television operators, he said it should not set prices to carry SABC channels as that would give the broadcaster “undue competition benefits”.

Ha said Icasa should leave the operators to negotiate costs. This could result in the SASC having to pay operators The SABCs channels are carried on DStv. a pact Multi Choice said was beneficial to both parties. SABC and Mufti-Choice have refused to divulge the terms of the pact, likely to be in favour of MultiChoice, explaining why the SABC wanted Icasas intervention.

Source: Business Report – Thabiso Modilluo