Regulator pushes DStv to resell English league content
Posted Thursday, June 14 2012 at 21:40
The telecoms industry regulator is drawing rules that will compel MultiChoice, the owners of DStv, to re-sell some of its exclusive content like the English Premier League rights to its rivals.
The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) says it will host a stakeholders’ meeting next month to seek the input of the pay-TV operators in the push to share their exclusive content for a fee.
The move is aimed at reducing the dominance of DStv, which is the subject of an investigation by the Competition Authority, which is seeking to establish whether or not DStv has unwarranted concentration of economic power that makes it lock the majority of Pay-TV viewers to its network and ultimately making it difficult for other players to break even.
DStv rivals led by Wananchi Group have been calling on the regulator to compel MultiChoice to sell them some of its contents, especially the English Premier League, which it has used to grow and defend its market share.
“What we want to do is to have a consultative stake holders meeting to come up with guidelines on how the firms can share the exclusive rights,” said Francis Wangusi, the acting Director General of CCK.
“We will then forward the input from the meeting to our ministry which would then formulate a policy which will make it a regulatory obligation for the providers to share such content.”
He said this method had been adopted in some countries such as Nigeria, UK and Italy and is not only meant to increase competition but also to ensure that end users can access such content from providers of their choice.
In the UK, the industry regulator instructed Sky—which had the exclusive rights to the English Premier League to re-sell them to Virgin Media which is a cable pay television.
In Nigeria, a similar battle for premium content pitted DStv against local pay-TV operator HiTV in 2010, with the former wresting the rights to air lucrative English Premier League matches from the Nigerian company.
“In some parts of the world this is already happening and will be looking forward to the meeting so that we can offer our contribution on how it can be done here,” said Richard Bell, the Chief executive of Wananchi Group.
Multichoice Kenya on Thursday said they would participate in the talks called by the regulator.
The firm has maintained a stranglehold on the region’s pay-TV segment for the last 20 years, managing to win a loyal following of about three million subscribers in several African markets.
It recently moved to diversify its product offering by delving into mobile TV products, launching a new service that will allow mobile subscribers to watch satellite television on their handsets at a low cost.