As BAZ blocks Kwese, South Africa moves to break DStv monopoly

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It’s not just us, Zimbabweans, who are concerned about the dominance of DStv. In countries across Africa entertainment lovers crave alternatives. Here in Zimbabwe we almost got a competitive alternative until the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) yanked that from us. In South Africa though, despite DStv being a South African offering, the broadcasting regulator ICASA is taking strides to ensure there is a competitive sector.

ICASA is looking to see if there are any competition problems in the pay-tv industry. They released a discussion document listing possible market interventions. They have invited contributions and will only set regulations imposing pro-competitive conditions if necessary. Of particular importance to ICASA is the acquisition and management of sports rights. Let us look at some of the proposed market interventions which will apply to licensees with significant power (read DStv.)

  • Opening Multichoice’s network to other subscription television broadcasting services. Multichoice, which owns DStv, would be obligated to share their distribution infrastructure. This leads to smaller players being able to compete with this giant. Infrastructure sharing however is a complicated subject where coming up with a fair solution is harder said than done. (In Zimbabwe, the would-be competition for DStv is not even asking for infrastructure sharing. Kwese has invested in it’s own infrastructure. So BAZ does not have to navigate these treacherous waters.)
  • Shortening exclusive contract periods. Multichoice has been in a leadership position for a long time and has brokered a lot of exclusive contracts along the way. For there to be true competition these exclusives have to be looked at and care must be taken so that they are not for too long a period. (In Zimbabwe as there was hype about Kwese coming to the country, we had some who were not interested because of content missing on Kwese but exclusive to DStv.)
  • Unbundling of sports rights and making them available to more than one buyer. Making the content available on more than one platform being important too i.e subscription and mobile tv and on the internet too. Rights splitting is also proposed, where a rights owner has to split the content rights and sell them to different broadcasters. (In Zimbabwe, seeing as some won’t consider an option like Kwese because of lack of sports content exclusive to DStv, there is no true competition which BAZ should look at.)
  • Various other proposals like decoder and dish interoperability where switching costs are lowered and so competition is increased and wholesale must-offer conditions are also in the discussion document.

I find it ridiculous that as the Zimbabwean broadcasting regulator blocks a ‘Zimbabwean’ broadcaster to protect a South African broadcaster, the South African regulator looks to clip that same South African broadcaster’s wings. What do you think about the proposals? Do you think they could lead to a shake up in the DStv dominated pay-tv sector?

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DStv is a Pay TV service owned by South African company, Multichoice. DStv provides a broad spectrum of entertainment, news and information channels subscribed to via bouquets. Bouquets have a pre selected number of channels. In Zimbabwe, the DStv service ... Read More

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) is the regulatory authority for broadcasting in Zimbabwe. BAZ was established through an Act of Parliament in 2001 providing for the functions, powers and duties of the authority. BAZ falls under the Minister of ... Read More

Kwese TV is a Zimbabwean satellite and broadcasting network owned by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, under Econet Media. On 23 August 2017, Econet Media announced that Kwese TV was now available in Zimbabwe and that decoders were available at Econet Shops. ... Read More

8 Comments

  1. Takanaka says:

    Kwese thank you.We have now seen the true colours of our leaders. This is a disgrace. A total mess. The same cowards who beg Dangote to invest see it fit to deny their own son Masiyiwa and let the apartheid controlled DSTV remain a monopoly.It is totally a disgrace to have countries like neighbouring Zambia watching Kwese while the owners, the Zimbabwean are forbidden to watch it. Deprivation. I have noticed one thing though. The more our cruel government pin him down the more Masiyiwa prospers.

    1. Leonard Sengere says:

      It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? How can the government say they want to promote investment in this country then turn down Masiyiwa. You can’t help but think this is being politicised or maybe they are just holding a grudge. Either way it’s stupid.

  2. Blessing says:

    Admittedly, DSTV is a much better alternative to ZTV. Unfortunately, their offering is not great due to a lack of proper competition. There are lots of repeats, boring channels and old programmes. Perhaps with the exception of sport in some instances. The full bouquet does not really offer value for money. Kwese TV and any other new broadcasters would definitely bring excitement into this industry and offer consumers the much needed freedom of choice that they desire. In addition, making payments for DSTV is a nightmare as there are no feasible options. One must have cash in USD or rands. And yet the economy in Zimbabwe is thriving on alternative payment methods because it’s hard to get cash in these currencies. Kwese TV was offering more feasible methods of payment seeing as it is a “local company” and anyone would have been able to get access. The powers that be must rethink on this, surely. Competition is healthy.

    1. Leonard Sengere says:

      My sentiments exactly. All we are asking for is more competition in this sector. Even those who jump on to the new thing will benefit as DStv will be forced to innovate to compete. Kwese is not perfect but it’s an alternative and we want it.

  3. On Tour of duty says:

    Its amazing how our Igwe brothers and sisters here in Nigeria & Ghana are enjoying Kwese. I was also teaching them what the Shona word Kwese means in English and they like it. In due season, i hope Kwese will be available on home soil

    1. Leonard Sengere says:

      It will be available soon. They are only delaying the inevitable.

  4. Gidza says:

    Our government is anti-investment and anti-development.vanofara kuona vanhu vachitambura .

  5. About time says:

    Don’t broadcasters bid for sports rights? It will be interesting to see how they solve this without chasing out the rights holders and frustrating bidders

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